Professor Deborah Brennan from UNSW's Social Policy Research Centre has been commissioned by the state government to conduct a review into how $220 million of state and federal funding is being spent on early childhood education in NSW.

NSW lags behind the rest of Australia in both participation rates and affordability with only 81 per cent of children accessing early childhood education compared with more than 95 per cent in some other states and territories.

The review, announced by the NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, will recommend a new funding system to increase access and participation, especially for disadvantaged children.

"The situation in NSW has come about because successive state governments have failed to invest adequately in young children. WA and SA offer preschools as part of their public school systems," Professor Brennan said. "However, in NSW early childhood education has been largely left to community and private providers."

The review will help the state government deliver its goal of providing access to early childhood education for all children in the year prior to starting primary school, significantly improving their health and economic prospects in later life.

"The early years are critical in terms of brain development - services need to be educationally and developmentally focused. The evidence is now in that preschool is the crucial time for governments and communities to invest in early childhood education," said Professor Brennan.

The review's recommendations are expected to be presented to the Government by the end of the year.

Media contact: Fran Strachan | | 9385 8732