Kindergarten funding is still in doubt
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.