News

Earlier kinder pledge

By Benalla Ensign

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 $5billion 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-year-old 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.