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Queensland 'should stop circulating incorrect information'

A STOUSH has erupted between the Federal Government and the Queensland Government over a subsidy which helps child care centres care for young disabled children.

State Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek yesterday attacked the Gillard Government, saying it had withdrawn funding for the subsidy, which helps disabled children attend child care.

But Federal Early Childhood Minister Kate Ellis hit back, saying Mr Langbroek did not understand the federal-state agreement, which meant the state was supposed to fund all kindergarten education.

The stoush comes after confusion in the State's child care sector over the Federal Government's inclusion support subsidy.

Under the subsidy, child care centres are funded to employ an extra staff member to help look after young disabled children, but once the child turns three and a half, the subsidy ends.

From that age on, the child's early childhood education becomes a state responsibility under the kindergarten system, rather than long day care centres.

Mr Langbroek said Queensland day care centres had just found out funding for the subsidy was cut just before Christmas, leaving some children in limbo.

"I've had day care services tell me that in 2013 they will have to turn away children with high needs from their kindergarten program without the necessary funding provided by the subsidy," he said.

"This is either exceptionally poor policy or a callous attempt by the Gillard Government to shift its responsibility for day care and early childhood onto the states and territories."

But Ms Ellis said he was wrong, and should stop circulating the incorrect information to child care centres in Queensland.

"This is completely untrue. Let me be very clear - we have not changed the program guidelines and we have not cut funding," she said.

"It has always been the responsibility of state governments to provide inclusion support for kindergarten and this has not changed in any way.

"The Queensland Government should stop trying to shirk its responsibility and support the Queensland families who need it the most."

While the subsidy and the agreement between both governments had not changed since 2006, it is understood the Queensland Government circulated the wrong information to service providers.

It is understood the incorrect information was included in a newsletter to the child care industry late last year.

Correspondence between the Federal Government and subsidy intermediaries - which pass the money on to child care centres - advised all child care centre in Queensland to note nothing had changed.

However, that correspondence also said if a service was currently receiving the subsidy, and was not eligible, the funding should stop immediately, which may have contributed to the confusion.

While the subsidy does not cover kindergarten students, it does cover those children with "additional needs" outside of the hours of any state government-approved kindergarten program.

Topics:  child care, federal government, funding, john-paul langbroek, kate ellis



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