Kindergarten Prepurchased Places Program
Ms MIKAKOS (Minister for Early Childhood Education) (09:41:40) — I rise to update the house on how the Andrews Labor government is making things fairer for families and ensuring that all children have access to kindergarten in Victoria. The Andrews government has invested $2.3 million to make the prepurchased places program a permanent fixture of the early education landscape because we recognise that often the children who are most likely to miss out on kindergarten are those that will benefit the most. This program enables vulnerable families and children known to child protection, refugees, Koori children and concessions card holders to still attend a local kindergarten service at no cost even if they have missed the enrolment dates.
We first piloted this approach successfully in 2016 as a way of ensuring that vulnerable kids who missed enrolment deadlines or moved during the year would still be able to access a local kindergarten place. From now on, every year more than 650 places will be reserved across the state for vulnerable families and children so that they can have that opportunity to get access to an early childhood education.
I am pleased to advise the house that in 2018, 663 kindergarten places have been reserved across 240 services in both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. Research shows that children who have a stimulating and supportive start to life are more likely to do well later in life and children who attend kinder score higher on their NAPLAN tests.
The prepurchased places program changes lives by helping families overcome barriers through participating in kindergarten. It is an important way in which our government’s $202.1 million Early Childhood Reform Plan aims to ensure that every Victorian child can access and benefit from kinder. We are seeking to ensure that every Victorian child is ready for kinder, ready for school and ready for life.