Ear­lier kinder pledge

Benalla Ensign - - News -

Ev­ery child in born in Be­nalla will start kinder­garten a year ear­lier un­der a re-elected La­bor Govern­ment

State Mem­ber for North­ern Vic­to­ria Ja­clyn Symes said La­bor would in­vest al­most $5 bil­lion over the next decade to de­liver a full 15 hours of three-year-old kinder, help­ing make sure Vic­to­rian kids were ready for school and set for life.

If it goes ahead it will be the largest so­cial, eco­nomic and ed­u­ca­tional re­form ever un­der­taken in early child­hood learn­ing in Vic­to­ria’s his­tory.

La­bor’s elec­tion prom­ise is also good news for lo­cal fam­i­lies strug­gling with the cost of liv­ing.

Right now, many fam­i­lies were forced to scrimp and save to cover the costs of three-yearold kinder — about $5000 a year for 15 hours — while the vast ma­jor­ity see their kids miss out.

Re­cent re­search con­ducted by com­mu­nity ser­vice provider Unit­ing shows that nearly one in five fam­i­lies did not have their chil­dren en­rolled in early learn­ing be­cause of the cost.

But un­der La­bor’s plan, about a quar­ter of Vic­to­rian fam­i­lies will pay noth­ing at all.

For fam­i­lies with a higher in­come, the La­bor Govern­ment will cover 65 per cent of their child’s kinder­garten costs, con­sis­tent with the cur­rent sub­sidy for four-year-old kinder.

This rep­re­sents a sav­ing of at least $3500 for fam­i­lies whose chil­dren at­tend a stand­alone kinder.

‘‘All the ev­i­dence shows that early ed­u­ca­tion can shape a child’s en­tire fu­ture,’’ Ms Symes said.

‘‘It’s why this ex­tra year of kinder — and all the learn­ing and play that comes with it — will make the world of dif­fer­ence to lo­cal chil­dren and lo­cal fam­i­lies.

‘‘As this in­vest­ment goes to show, only La­bor will in­vest in the fu­ture of North­ern Vic­to­ria — and the fu­ture of our kids.’’

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

Cen­tres that make cost sav­ings due to the in­vest­ment will be re­quired to pass any sav­ings on to fam­i­lies.

Un­der La­bor’s plan, ev­ery Vic­to­rian child will have ac­cess to at least five hours of sub­sidised three-year-old kinder by 2022, pro­gres­sively scaled up to 15 hours per week over the next decade.

A re-elected La­bor Govern­ment prom­ises to work closely with the early child­hood sec­tor, in­clud­ing lo­cal coun­cils, to de­liver this re­form.

Ja­clyn Symes

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