Posted June 2011

The Hon Adrian Piccoli MP

Wednesday 1 June 2011

We know that quality early childhood education and care gives children the best start in life.

One of our key election commitments was to move responsibility for preschools to the education portfolio.

I'm pleased to say that not only have we done that in our first 100 days in office, but we have gone further. We have moved responsibility for all of the early childhood education and care sector including Out of School Hours Care, Vacation Care, Occasional Care and Mobile services, as well as Family Day Care into the Department of Education and Communities.

We did this because it is no longer appropriate for early childhood education and care to be within the community services portfolio along with other children's services. I know that many of you raised this with the previous government and wrote to a previous Premier seeking to be moved into the education portfolio but nothing happened.

The COAG National Quality Reforms, which we support, make it clear that the primary role of preschool and long day care services is the provision of early childhood education and care.

And I can tell you that at the meeting of the Ministerial Council on Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) which I attended in April, Ministers agreed that we should stop using the words "childcare" to communicate with parents about what we do and instead, to talk about early education and care.

We believe that early childhood education and care services are first and foremost a universal, mainstream service which is available to all children and families and whose key focus is on early childhood education and development. That's why we believe that placing early childhood education and care in our Department of Education and Communities is the right thing to do.

It means that I am the Minister for all education for everyone in NSW, from young children through school to higher education and on to whole of life learning.

As well, it brings us into line with the rest of Australia. In every state and territory (except WA), as well as federally, Ministerial responsibility for early education and care services already rests with either the Minister for Education or a Minister for Early Childhood, and it is part of the Department of Education.

It also recognises the need for the clear separation of early childhood education and care from the statutory responsibilities for child protection, as is again the case in every other state and territory.

I want to assure you that in doing this we have taken into account important issues that I know you are concerned about.