MORE Queensland children are attending kindergarten than ever before, according to the latest figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
In the last five years, Queensland has more than tripled its kindy attendance rate from 29 per cent in 2008 to 97.4 per cent last year.
Minister for Education, Training and Employment John-Paul Langbroek said it showed that the Government was delivering on its election promise to revitalise frontline services.
"What this proves is that the strategies we have put in place over the last few years to lift kindergarten attendance rates are working," Mr Langbroek said.
"The importance of early childhood programs in a child's development can't be underestimated, which is why the Queensland Government is working hard to invest more in these vital early years.
"The previous Labor Government didn't have as strong a focus on the early years as we do, despite the overwhelming evidence that by investing earlier children will achieve better results."
Current Queensland Government strategies to boost kindy attendance rates include:
- Creating additional kindergarten places and supporting quality kindergarten infrastructure
- Provision of subsidies to support kindergarten programs
- Targeted programs to support access for vulnerable, disadvantaged, rural and remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
- Enhancing quality standards of kindergarten programs
- Increasing community and sector awareness and engagement
"This year the Newman Government is opening another 13 new kindergarten services, opening up an extra 700 places for Queensland children," he said.
"We've also rolled out the eKindy program for families in rural or remote locations or with other challenges that may prevent them from attending a physical kindergarten service.
"eKindy gives children a true kindy experience on their home computers where they're supported by qualified early childhood teachers using webconferencing," he said.
"More than 160 Queensland children took part in eKindy last year and even more are expected to join this year - from small communities like Augathella, Boulia, Forsyth and Yarraman and Aramac."
Mr Langbroek said his own Department had also recently moved to overhaul the area of early childhood education and care, which will get its own deputy director-general for the first time ever.
"We want to strengthen the relationships between schools and childcare services, similar to what we see between high schools and primary schools," he said.
"The more seamless the transitions are between kindy, primary school, high school and further education for children and their families, the more likely we are to achieve higher attendance rates and better results right the way through - from crayon to career.
"This is all about lifting student outcomes and providing a solid foundation for Queensland's future economic prosperity."
Mr Langbroek said while the result encouraging, there was still room for improvement, especially with children from indigenous and low socio economic backgrounds.
The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children attending a kindergarten program in 2013 was 77.9 per cent and the proportion from low socio-economic backgrounds was 85.5 per cent.
"While these figures are still vastly improved from five years ago, we can't drop the ball and need to focus our energy on closing the gap in these areas," Mr Langbroek said.
"That's why the Queensland Government is continuing to roll out strategies to support access to kindergarten programs.
"We are working hard to ensure every single Queensland child has access to a kindergarten program and enjoys the lifelong benefits of a quality early education."
Parents wanting to locate their local kindergarten can call the Kindy Hotline on 1800 454 639 or visit www.qld.gov.au/kindy.
Current family events and tips for preparing children for kindergarten can also be found on the 'Kindy counts' Facebook page.
More information about children and family centres is available on telephone 3893 0373 and about early years centres on telephone 3247 5657.
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