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Federal funding uncertainty continues for preschools

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The Municipal Association of Victoria is calling on the Prime Minister to give all Victorian kids the best start to their education by committing ongoing Federal funding to keep kindergarten fees affordable.

The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) is calling on the Prime Minister to give all Victorian kids the best start to their education by committing ongoing Federal funding to keep kindergarten fees affordable.

Cr Mary Lalios, MAV President said Federal funding for four-year old kinder ceases in 12 months and the $100 million a year loss would hurt Victorians’ hip pockets and make preschool unaffordable for many.

“There is irrefutable evidence that kids who attend a preschool program generally do better in life. 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.

“If Federal funding isn’t renewed in the 2 April Federal Budget, working families will face an average $2,000 more per child in childcare fees. Many parents will be priced out of being able to afford kindergarten and their children will simply miss out,” she said.

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 1,300 community preschools, over 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 commenced in 2013, successive short-term funding by the Federal government had created ongoing uncertainty for families and services.

“The Federal Labor Party has recently committed to permanently fund two years of preschool, for all three-year olds and four-year old children. This is a great win for our children.

“However, the current Coalition Federal government is backing away from its shared funding responsibility for four-year old kindergarten.

“We encourage all Victorian families to sign the I Love Kinder petition to the Prime Minister to help us secure ongoing, permanent Federal funding for 15 hours of preschool each week.

“We owe it to the next generation. They will be our future MPs, doctors, nurses, plumbers, chefs, accountants, teachers and many occupations that we haven’t even dreamt of yet.  Let’s give our children the best start to be all that they can be,” she said.

Go to www.ilovekinder.org.au to pledge your support.

Contact Cr Mary Lalios on 0447 189 409 or MAV Communications on 9667 5547.