Council considers solutions to future kinder growth

The City of Whittlesea is looking at how it can meet the growing demand on local three-year-old kinder placements with the roll-out of more funded hours each week that comes into effect from 2022.

The increase in demand comes from the roll out of the Victorian Government’s Kindergarten Reform, which stipulates that all three-year-olds will have access to five hours a week of kindergarten by next year and this will increase to 15 hours a week by 2029.

Chair Administrator Lydia Wilson said the effect of the reform meant double the number of children receiving kindergarten education across Victoria.

“In order for the City of Whittlesea to meet the increase in demand for three-year-old kindergarten, Council would need new infrastructure to be built for kindergarten while optimising the use of current facilities,” she said.

“Feedback from our local families is that most will take up the option of funded three-year-old kindergarten and the preference was traditional sessional kinder and not a program delivered by long day care services.

“We will be looking very closely at how we plan for the growing demand to ensure Council can provide every three-year-old who wants to attend kinder a place, locally.”

Council has prepared a Kindergarten Infrastructure and Services Plan (KISP) in conjunction with the Victorian Government, which was presented via a report to Council at its meeting on Tuesday 4 May. The KISP will be made public once it is signed off by the Victorian Government.

“The KISP tells us that there will be significant unmet demand in some parts of our municipality,” Ms Wilson said.

“We’ll use this information to create an options paper, which will look at the needs and opportunities for kinder in our municipality in the future.

“Options may include working in partnership with early years’ providers, rooms on school sites and examining opportunities to increase access to long-day care.”

The KISP will also be used to drive funding from all levels of government to ensure local access to kindergarten, including from the Victorian Government’s Building Blocks Infrastructure Strategy.

The Kindergarten Reform Options Paper will be presented to the October 2021 Council Meeting for consideration.

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