This policy will provide clear guidelines for:
- free kindergarten funding for funded sessional kindergarten programs
- This policy applies to the approved provider, persons with management or control, nominated supervisor, persons in day-to-day charge, early childhood teachers, educators, staff, parents/guardians attending Woodlands Long day Care and Kindergarten.
Free Kindergarten: A Victorian Government initiative providing free kindergarten programs for four- year-old and three-year-old children in funded services
General background information:
From 2023, the Victorian Government is making kindergarten programs free for three and four-year-old children saving you and your family up to $2,000 per year for their program. Free Kinder is a critical component of the Victorian Government’s Best Start, Best Life reform.
What does free kindergarten mean at Woodlands?
Woodlands has opted into the Free Kindergarten initiative:
- 5-15 hours of free 3-year-old kindergarten
- 15 hours of free 4-year-old kindergarten.
- Offsetting the funded kindergarten program component of parent fees for three and four-year-old children enrolled at Woodlands.
Attending multiple services
We understand that some children attend both long day care at Woodlands and Sessional Kindergarten.
Families can only receive Free Kinder Funding for one service at any one time. If a child attends multiple services that offer a Victorian Government funded free Kindergarten program, families must specify the service they wish to claim the funding.
Families can receive funding for one year in a three-year-old kindergarten program and one year in a four-year-old Kindergarten Program.
The Victorian Government provides Free Kinder funding directly to the service providers (our centres), not directly to families.
For Long day care centres, the Victorian Government will provide Free Kinder payments up to a value of $2000. However, most families will still pay some fees, depending on how many days a child attends and any Commonwealth Childcare Subsidy entitlements.
- apply standard fees across the service for all kindergarten-age enrolments (three- and four-year-old) to ensure that children enrolled in a kindergarten program are not charged higher fees in comparison to children that are not attracting kindergarten funding
- directly offset the full $2,000 payment from the fees of parents with children receiving their funded kindergarten program at the centre (service providers are not required to separately calculate and record the cost of the kindergarten hours separately for integrated programs)
- apply the fee offset termly and clearly indicate the offset amount (labelled Victorian Government Free Kinder offset) on parent invoice statements.
It has been advertised as 'Free kinder'. Why do I still have to pay fees?
The government has introduced the “Free Kinder” program to improve access and affordability of registered kindergarten programs through a subsidy for families.
In a long day care setting, our educators and teachers provide a full day of education and care with an integrated kindergarten program. These extended services and hours incur additional operational costs which a standalone kindergarten program, which only operates for selected times and days, would not incur.
Due to these additional operational costs and the broader service provided, families enrolled in the kindergarten program from 2023 will still need to pay some gap fees. Fees will certainly be reduced for eligible children, when compared to current fees and fees of ineligible children.
- Best Start Best Life: https://www.vic.gov.au/give-your-child-the-best-start-in-life
- The Kindergarten Funding Guide (Department of Education and Training): www.education.vic.gov.au
- Resources for Funded Kindergartens: https://www.education.vic.gov.au
- Translated Free Kinder letter template for participating service providers: https://www.vic.gov.au/translations-letter-parents-free-kinder-program#free-kinder-letter-for-parents-at-long-day-care-services
- Information for parents: https://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/childhood/professionals/profdev/information-for-parents.pdf