Kindergarten investment to give kids the best start

October 18, 2019 BY


THE State government is investing almost five-billion dollars over the next decade to deliver fifteen hours of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten a week, with the roll-out beginning in 2020.

This will be available in both sessional (standalone) kindergartens and long day care (childcare) centres.

This will be the largest social, economic and educational reform in early childhood education in Victoria’s history, creating 6,000 new teaching jobs across the state.

At the moment, kindergarten programs for three-year-olds can cost Victorian families about $5000 a year for 15 hours a week – while some families see their children miss out completely.

With the introduction of funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten, about a quarter of Victorian families will pay nothing at all in sessional kindergartens.

For families with a higher income, the state government will cover around two-thirds of their child’s kindergarten costs, consistent with the current subsidy for four-year-old kindergarten. This represents a saving of at least $3500 for families whose children attend a sessional kindergarten service.

Families with children who go to long day care centres will also benefit, with these services given funding to employ teachers in their three-year-old rooms.

The 2019-20 Victorian Budget invests $881.6 million in the roll-out, which will give children access to two years of funded kindergarten programs led by a teacher before starting school. It’s part of a $4.1 billion investment in education this year – from kindergarten programs and schools through to higher education and TAFE.

The budget includes $473.2 million to co-invest in new and expanded kindergarten facilities, when and where they are needed most.

It also invests $92.4 million to support the early childhood workforce through more professional development, mentoring and financial support so children have access to highly trained teachers and educators.

The roll out of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten will create 4,000 jobs for bachelor-qualified teachers and 2,000 educators over the next 10 years.

There are hundreds of financial support packages available to help you study to become an early childhood teacher and you can apply online at education.vic.gov.au at any time of the year.

The Victorian Government has also expanded the Free TAFE courses to include the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care and Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care from 2020.

Research shows that a child who has attended two years of a quality kindergarten program will, on average:

  • have better cognitive and social skills when they start school
  • have higher exam scores at age 16, including better grades in English and maths
  • have better social and emotional outcomes at age 16, and
  • be more likely to take more final year exams and to go on to higher academic study.

Investment in early childhood education has significant social and economic benefits. For every $1 invested in early childhood education, Australia receives $2 back over a child’s life – through higher productivity and earning capacity, and reduced government spending on health, welfare and crime.

Three-Year-Old Kindergarten will become available in stages. Next year, three-year-olds in six government areas – Buloke, Hindmarsh, Northern Grampians, South Gippsland, Strathbogie, and Yarriambiack – will be able to get access to up to 15 hours of funded kindergarten each week. These areas are:

In 2021, families in another 15 local government areas – Alpine, Ararat, Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Colac-Otway, Corangamite, East Gippsland, Glenelg, Hepburn, Indigo, Loddon, Murrindindi, Southern Grampians, Towong, West Wimmera – will also have access to up to 15 hours of funded kindergarten each week.

These first roll-out areas have been chosen because they will have the capacity needed to offer kindergarten programs to local three-year-olds.

From 2022, three-year-olds across the rest of state will have access to five hours of a funded kindergarten program each week. The hours will progressively increase to 15 hours a week by 2029.