Kin­der­garten fund­ing is still in doubt

Seymour Telegraph - - NEWS -

Un­cer­tainty con­tin­ues to sur­round the fu­ture of Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment fund­ing for kinder­gartens.

If the fund­ing was not re­newed in this year’s Fed­eral Bud­get, work­ing fam­i­lies faced an av­er­age $2000 more per child in child­care fees.

The Mu­nic­i­pal As­so­ci­a­tion of Vic­to­ria (MAV) is call­ing on the Coali­tion to give all Vic­to­rian chil­dren the best start to their ed­u­ca­tion by com­mit­ting on­go­ing fund­ing to keep kin­der­garten fees af­ford­able.

MAV pres­i­dent Mary Lalios said Fed­eral fund­ing for fouryear-old kinder ceases in 12 months, and the $100 mil­lion a year loss would hurt fam­i­lies’ hip pock­ets and make preschool un­af­ford­able for many.

‘‘There is ir­refutable ev­i­dence that kids who at­tend a preschool pro­gram gen­er­ally do bet­ter in life,’’ Coun­cil­lor Lalios said.

‘‘It equips them with the so­cial and cog­ni­tive skills that help with a smooth tran­si­tion to pri­mary school.

‘‘On av­er­age, kinder kids also have su­pe­rior lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy once they at­tend school, and they ex­pe­ri­ence higher lev­els of em­ploy­ment, fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity, health and well­be­ing over their life­time.

‘‘Un­der our na­tional model, all chil­dren are en­ti­tled to 15 hours per week of four-year-old kin­der­garten in the year be­fore they start school.

‘‘Yet con­cern is grow­ing among Vic­to­rian kinder ser­vices and fam­i­lies that fees may rise dra­mat­i­cally if Fed­eral fund­ing is not on­go­ing be­yond De­cem­ber 2019.

‘‘En­rol­ment pro­cesses to se­cure kin­der­garten places in 2020 will com­mence from March next year but fam­i­lies are in the dark about whether Com­mon­wealth fund­ing will con­tinue to help cover the costs.

‘‘Many par­ents will be priced out of be­ing able to af­ford kin­der­garten and their chil­dren will sim­ply miss out.’’

Vic­to­ria’s preschool sys­tem is jointly funded.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment funds five hours and the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment funds 10 hours, so all chil­dren can at­tend 15 hours of four-year-old kinder each week.

Lo­cal coun­cils also vol­un­tar­ily in­vest sig­nif­i­cant funds and re­sources.

Of Vic­to­ria’s 1300 com­mu­nity preschools, more than 80 per cent op­er­ate from coun­cil-owned build­ings.

Many coun­cils also run cen­tral en­rol­ment for kinder­gartens in their mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Cr Lalios said since the na­tional 15 hours kin­der­garten model be­gan in 2013, suc­ces­sive short-term fund­ing by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment had cre­ated on­go­ing un­cer­tainty for fam­i­lies and ser­vices.

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