Three-Year-Old Kindergarten is just around the corner for children living in the Buloke and Northern Grampians Shires, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government’s landmark early childhood education reform.
Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education Sonya Kilkenny today joined children, educators and teachers at Charlton and District Kindergarten and Sea Lake Kindergarten in Buloke and St Arnaud Early Learning Centre in Northern Grampians to mark the first enrolments for funded three-year-old kinder programs.
In an Australian first, the Labor Government has committed almost $5 billion to deliver 15 hours of funded kindergarten programs to three-year-old children in Victoria over the next decade.
Buloke and Northern Grampians are among six regional local government areas – including Hindmarsh, South Gippsland, Strathbogie and Yarriambiack – that will be the first in the state to offer up to 15 hours a week of funded three-year-old kindergarten programs in 2020.
Early childhood services such as St Arnaud Early Learning Centre, Charlton and District Kindergarten and Sea Lake Kindergarten are gearing up to introduce this historic reform, with enrolments already open across the region.
The roll-out will continue progressively across the state, with families in a further 15 regional LGAs to benefit in 2021. This will be expanded in 2022 to give three-year-olds across the rest of the state access to five hours of funded kindergarten, before being scaled up to a full 15-hour program by 2029.
The Victorian Budget 2019/20 invested $881.6 million in the three-year-old kinder roll-out, as part of a sweeping $4.1 billion investment in education – from kinders and schools through to higher education and TAFE.
This includes $92.4 million to support early childhood educators through more professional development, mentoring and financial assistance, so children have access to a high quality kindergarten program for two years.
As part of these initiatives, financial incentives of up to $9,000 are available to attract early childhood teachers to the initial six roll-out areas, with applications now open online at www.education.vic.gov.au/ecscholarships
The reforms will also help families struggling with the cost of living, saving low income families in Victoria around $5,000 a year for a 15-hour-a-week kindergarten sessional place.
As noted by Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education Sonya Kilkenny
“It’s such an exciting time for families in Buloke and Northern Grampians, who can now enrol their children in funded universal three-year-old kindergarten programs for the very first time.”
As noted by Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp
“I encourage parents to contact their local services, enrol their children and be part of this historic initiative.”
As noted by Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford
“It’s just wonderful to see kids in Charlton and St Arnaud at the forefront of this amazing reform.”