The MAV welcomes news that Victorian children can continue accessing 15 hours of kindergarten a week in 2018, but remains concerned about the long-term future of the partnership funding arrangement.
The Federal Budget included $428 million to extend the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education for another 12 months, to the end of 2018.
This means the Federal Government will keep funding 5 hours of kindergarten per week, while the Victorian State Government continues funding 10 hours. Parents and councils also contribute significant funding to help make up any shortfalls, to ensure all children can access 15 hours of kinder a week in the year before school.
While the exact amount of the new Federal funding allocated to Victoria is unclear at this stage, the MAV welcomes the commitment. It will come as a relief to Victorian families who were facing additional childcare costs of up to $2,000 a year to cover the lost 5 hours a week.
However, the MAV strongly believes there needs to be a longer-term funding arrangement to provide councils, kinder staff, and families with real certainty and stability.
“While it is a great relief that kindergarten will be funded for another year by the Federal Government, teachers and families need certainty that 15 hours will continue beyond year-to-year funding promises,” MAV President Cr Mary Lalios said.
“We would like to see this funding allocated recurrently, so we don’t continue to face this difficult scenario each year and so kinders can properly plan for the future.
“Given Victoria is one of the fastest growing states, the funding should also account for CPI and growth so kinders can keep up with increasing enrolments.
“International evidence links kindergarten attendance to improved student results in numeracy, reading, and spelling. It is a critical part of children’s education and helps to prepare them for school, and should be properly supported by the Federal Government.
“Our children’s education is too important to keep facing such uncertainty.”