Out of school hours care to be trialled in preschools

An out of school hours care service will be trialled at 20 public preschools across the state, to help offer more support for parents and carers.

Trialing out of school hours care (OSHC) at preschools is one of 43 recommendations handed down in the Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care report, released on August 27.

The South Australian Government will start a $1.7 million trial of OSHC at selected preschools in 2024, with an emphasis on areas with higher levels of disadvantage.

Currently, most government preschools operate between 9am and 3pm. However, many non-government preschools offer much longer hours, with some open from 7am to 6pm.

Families may need care for their preschool-aged children outside of regular school hours, but it is often difficult to access an OSHC service that accepts preschool students.

The trial will test how different models of preschool OSHC could work in both school-based and standalone preschools.

Operating models for the trial will be tested this year and rolled out in 2024, including at Adams Road Children’s Centre at Craigmore, in Adelaide’s northern suburbs. Expressions of interest will be sought from other government preschools interested in taking part.

A further $10 million will be invested to increase support for OSHC services and to reform how the services are governed.

It follows the Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care report finding that school governing councils have faced difficulty in operating high-quality OSHC programs.

In total, the South Australian Government has announced it will implement 13 of the recommendations in the report.

This includes setting a target to reduce the rate of South Australian children from being developmentally vulnerable when they enter school from the current rate of 23.8 per cent to 15 per cent within 20 years, well below the national average of 22 per cent.

Other recommendations adopted include commencing the rollout of universal three-year-old preschool in 2026 to be completed by 2032; providing up to 30 hours of preschool per week for the most vulnerable three and four-year olds; and establishing an Early Childhood Workforce Fund.

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