Improving preschool participation

The National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education ensures every Australian child has access to a quality preschool program.

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National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education

The National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education has been extended until the end of 2021 with $452.3 million of funding to:

  • Ensure every child has access to a quality preschool program for 600 hours (15 hours a week) in the year before school
  • Provide continuity for the preschool sector as Australia deals with the impacts of COVID-19
  • Benefit 350,000 children participating in more than 11,000 preschool services

The 2021 extension was formally executed on 5 October 2020. This brings the total Commonwealth investment in preschool since 2014 to $3.2 billion. This funding is to 'top up' arrangements with states and territories who are responsible for the provision of preschool.

The National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education aims to ensure:

The National Quality Framework

The Australian Government's Universal Access commitment is also supported by the National Quality Framework includes a National Quality Standard to ensure high quality and consistent early childhood education and care across Australia, whether it is delivered by:

  • Centre-Based Day Care (CBDC) (note: from 2 July 2018, Centre Based Day Care replaced Long Day Care)
  • Family day care
  • Outside school hours care
  • Preschool services

The Standard also:

  • Underpins services' policies and practices in the areas that impact on a child's development
  • Helps families make informed choices about which service is best for their child.

Under the National Quality Framework, CBDC and preschool services must have an early childhood teacher in attendance, with specific requirements varying depending on the size of the service.


UANP Review

The Nous Group have completed the independent review of the Universal Access National Partnership (UANP), which was undertaken on behalf of the Australian and State and Territory Governments. The UANP Review final report has been published on the Education Council website.

Attendance Strategies for Early Learning

The Smith Family is working with states and territories to:

  • Identify communities with low preschool participation
  • Develop strategies to increase preschool attendance rates in these areas.

The Smith Family provided an interim report to the department at the end of 2019, following a research and consultation process to identify and develop effective attendance strategies.

As of August 1, the Attendance Strategies project resumed Stage Two after a three month hiatus period due to COVID-19. The project will work to further refine strategies for increasing preschool participation developed as part of Stage One by working in regional and outer-regional communities, particularly those with a high number of Indigenous families, and will soon be consulting within metropolitan areas with culturally and linguistically diverse communities. The project will consider the barriers that children in these areas face that impact on their participation in preschool.

The interim report has been published on The Smith Family website and a final report is to be delivered by The Smith Family in mid-2021.

More information

States and territories are responsible for the provision of preschool or kindergarten in their jurisdiction.

Contact the relevant state or territory government department in your area for more information:


Department Name



Department of Education


Department of Education and Training


Department of Education


Department of Education


Department for Education


Department of Education


Education Directorate


Department of Education