Kinder program rolling out

November 5, 2022 BY

Supporting the future: Best Start Best Life will aim to offer 15 hours of free kindergarten per week, increased delivery for four-year-old children, and new childcare facilities. Photo: FILE

A BEST Start, Best Life program from the State Government will aim to make kindergarten and childcare more accessible.

Fifteen weekly hours of free kinder for children aged three and four is set to be available next year, while construction on 50 government-operated childcare centres is expected to begin.

It’s estimated that 95 per cent of kindergarten providers and 97 per cent of long-day care providers have opted into the program.

North Bendigo Preschool is one of those kinders and Alex Ham, early childhood teacher and educational leader, said it will be a great benefit for their little learners and their families across the region.

“There’s no doubt that fees can be a barrier for some families, so this will make kinder more accessible, meaning more children will be able to attend and benefit from valuable early learning experiences,” she said.

Kindergartens throughout Victoria are expected to be supported with up to $2500 per child in implementing the free 15 hours.

From 2025, kindergarten providers broadly are set to transition to an increased program of 30 hours per week for four-year-old children.

With childcare needs keeping an estimated 26,000-plus women out of the workforce, Minister for Women, Natalie Hutchins, said the program will help female parents and carers throughout the state.

“For too long, women have been kept away from the workforce by hard-to-access childcare services that just don’t work for working families,” she said.

“That ends with us, and this analysis shows that when Victorian women benefit, the whole state wins.”