Funding changes to help reform learning
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has promised to reform early learning by subsidising three-year-old kindergarten, if re-elected.
It could mean good news for local families unable to afford the cost of sending a child to kindergarten.
Currently, families with three-year-olds in kindergarten pay about $5000 a year for 15 hours a week.
Trudy Brooks, owner of local early learning centre Trikki Kidz, believes the proposed changes are desperately needed because Australia has fallen behind in the early learning space.
‘‘This government initiative is simply fantastic,’’ Mrs Brooks said.
‘‘As a country, Australia is well-known to be behind other countries in the value it places on early years education.
‘‘There is so much research available now showing the significant benefits children gain from attending a high-quality early learning program such as kindergarten or long day care in the two years prior to school starting.
‘‘Attending kindergarten and long day care not only improves a child’s chance of success at school, but also in later life,’’ she said.
Mrs Brooks said the system forced many parents to wait an extra year before sending their child to kindergarten.
‘‘Many families keep threeyear-old children at home currently (particularly if there is a stay-at-home parent) and enrol them in kindergarten or long day care only for the one year prior to starting school, when government funding is available,’’ she said.
The reform would see threeyear-old kinder for every Victorian child from 2020.
Under the plan, every child would have access to at least five hours of subsidised threeyear-old kinder by 2022, progressively scaled up to 15 hours a week in the next decade.
For families with a higher income, the government would cover 65 per cent of costs, consistent with the current subsidy for four-year-old kinder.
That represents a saving of at least $3500 for families whose children attend a standalone kindergarten.
Those with children in long day care would also benefit, with centres funded to employ teachers in three-year-old rooms.
Centres which make cost savings would be required to pass savings on to families.
Fun and educational: Paige Holt, 3, attends Trikki Kidz Cobram, but according to owner Trudy Brooks, many parents are being priced out of sending their children to kinder from three.