Kinder will be free for all Victorian children in 2021.
Premier Daniel Andrews made the announcement on Tuesday morning, citing the difficulties felt by parents who had to juggle work, childcare and remote learning during 2020.
The Victorian Budget 2020/21 will deliver up to $169.6 million to make kinder free next year, saving families around $2000 for every child enrolled in a participating funded kinder program.
Mr Andrews said the investment would not only make sure more kids get a great early childhood education, but it’ll make it easier for parents – particularly women – to return to the workforce as Victoria recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
As part of the funding, subsidies will be offered to early childhood services providing funded kindergarten programs – meaning free kinder for four-year-olds and eligible three-year-olds attending a participating sessional kinder.
Families with children enrolled in kinder programs at a long day care centre will also benefit from a saving of around $2000 in fees.
And for those families that have kids attending unfunded three-year-old programs in sessional kinder, there will also be reduced fees.
Mr Andrews also announced an investment of $81.6 million to increase the availability of before and after school care.
Grants of up to $75,000 will be made available to start new outside school hours care programs at up to 400 government schools – so that any school that currently doesn’t have a program can apply to receive a grant.
“Women have been hardest hit by this pandemic. Real recovery means making sure they’re supported back into work – and the security and stability that affords,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Tuesday.
“This investment is dedicated to making the daily juggle of work, school and kinder just that little bit easier.”