Minister for Families and Children, Jenny Mikakos, today called on the Abbott Government to look after young families in rural and regional Victoria by committing to ongoing funding for four year old kinder programs.

Ms Mikakos said an analysis had revealed that if the Abbott Government fails to pay its share of kindergarten funding, Victoria would face a shortfall of $1082 per child attending 15 hours of four year old kindergarten per week.

The impact is worse in rural and regional Victoria, where families will miss out on $2414 in funds for every child from a low-income family attending a kindergarten if the Federal Government withdraws financial support.

The analysis highlighted the financial pressure that Victorian families and kindergartens would be placed under if the Federal Liberal Government withdrew from funding its share of the four-year old kindergarten program.

Under the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education, Victoria funds 10 hours of four-year old kindergarten per week and the Federal Government pays for five hours.

However, the funding is only secured until December and the Abbott Government has not indicated whether it will continue to pay its share, creating uncertainty for families and kinders, who need to plan budgets.

The Productivity Commission recently found that 15 hours of kindergarten is essential to supporting children’s development and improving school readiness. It recommended the Federal Government should continue to support 15 hours.

Ms Mikakos said that Victorian Coalition MP’s needed to send a strong message to their federal counterparts that 15 hours of kindergarten was important for children’s development and is essential to families.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children, Jenny Mikakos

“Kids in regional and country Victoria deserve the best start in life, and kinder programs are an important kick start for school.”

“Families in regional Victoria will be hard hit by cuts to kinder. Tony Abbott must end the uncertainty and commit to funding 15 hours of kindergarten.”

“The Victorian Liberals have been silent on this. Instead of standing on the sidelines, they must stand up for Victorian families and ensure the Federal Government funds the agreement.”