Illawarra preschool teachers have urged the NSW government to follow the federal government's example by raising the pay of early childhood workers.
Earlier this week federal education and early childhood ministers announced a $300-million funding package, which will allow workers in long daycare centres to apply for grants and receive pay rises of $3 an hour from July 1.
Similarly qualified early childhood teachers at community-owned preschools would not receive pay rises because they were funded by the state government, the Independent Education Union representing university-qualified early childhood teachers said yesterday.
Keiraville Community Preschool director Margaret Gleeson said her staff were at risk of being left behind if the state government did not agree to support wage increases.
"I think it's wonderful the federal government recognises that the pay rates affect not just the quality of staff but also the retention of staff in early childhood services," she said.
"Our concern is that this is a federal government initiative and it's not extended to state-funded preschools - of which we are one."
There are about 850 community-based preschools in NSW.
Ms Gleeson said low wages in the early childhood sector had already made it difficult to attract and keep suitably qualified staff at her preschool.
"Teachers in the early childhood field are paid at least 20 per cent less than a teacher in a primary school," she said.
"At the same time NSW funding for preschools is drastically lower than other states, and that means the fees are drastically higher.
"There are children who are missing out on attending the days that their parents would choose for them to come to preschool because of financial reasons."
"Unless the state government does something this is going to put us even further behind in terms of being on a level playing field with other service types."
The NSW Department of Education and Communities was yesterday unable to respond to questions about funding for preschool teachers by the Mercury's deadline.