One thing that can future proof your kids
IT can transform your child's life, boosting their health and income in later life and stopping them going to jail. But funding for this vital program will run out this year.
Children who attend preschool are less likely to commit crimes or end up on welfare, they are healthier and go on to earn more money, a groundbreaking new study has found.
For every $1 invested into preschool, Australia receives back $2 over a child's life, research from PricewaterhouseCoopers shows.
Around nine in 10 four-year-olds currently attend preschool but the government agreement that funds the education will run out at the end of this year.
Experts say Australia could do better and is lagging the world in failing to provide preschool for three-years-olds as well as four-year-olds.
The research was funded by The Front Project, a group financed by major businesses including Woodside Energy and the Paul Ramsay Foundation which advocates for childhood education.
CEO of The Front Project Jane Hunt said the research showed why governments must commit more funding.
The research found parents, whose children attend preschool, gain a collective $1463 million boost in earnings because they can return to work or increase their hours of work.
Single parents were estimated to work an extra 4.95 hours per week if they could access a preschool for their child and parents in couple families, worked an extra 1.7 hours.
Business and the economy receive a $319 million boost in productivity from a more educated workforce.
Children benefit with a $997 million increase in lifetime earnings, educational achievement and employment, and better health and wellbeing.
Governments see increased tax revenue of $313 million every year and decreased spending on health, welfare and justice worth $1,194 million.
Children who attend preschool are less likely to commit crime when they grow up and the study found this saved the government $522 million a year.
They are also less likely to smoke or become obese and this saves the health system $605 million a year.
They are more likely to work and therefore less likely to access welfare saving the government $67 million a year.
The economic modelling was based on a child attending a quality early education program for 15 hours a week, delivered by a bachelor qualified teacher, in the year before school.
Although most Australian children are getting access to preschool, a quarter of the services that deliver the education aren't meeting government quality standards.
CEO of The Front Project Jane Hunt said the research showed why governments must commit to more funding preschool when it runs out at the end of this year.
"You'll double your investment if you do," she said.
There was further opportunity for the government to reap even more benefits from preschool if it extended funding to three-years-olds as well, she said.
The UK, many US states, China and more than 30 other OECD countries funded preschool for three-years-olds.