HUNDREDS of Warrnambool kindergarten children will be among the first to benefit from the State Government’s Australian-first school readiness funding next year.
It will help them get the most out of kinder and aims for children to start school on track.
State Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos visited Warrnambool’s Central Kindergarten on Manifold Street on Wednesday to announce that it was one of 19 local kinders to share in $58.1 million starting next year.
In total, Warrnambool kinders will receive $433,282.
That represents a 28 per cent increase in their base kindergarten funding and will be used to engage with experts and access evidence-based programs to help kids stay on par with their peers.
Census data shows that one in five Victorian children start school developmentally vulnerable and once behind, they tend to stay behind.
School readiness funding will allow Victorian kinders to tap into the expertise of speech and occupational therapists, language and literacy professionals and child psychologists, who can then boost the capability of both parents and teachers.
It’s the first time in Australia such funding has been made available to kindergartens and is aimed to become a permanent part of Victoria’s early childhood education funding.
School readiness funding will be rolled out to all kinders statewide by 2021.
All kindergartens operated by an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations in Victoria will also receive the funding next year.
This needs-based funding aims to reduce the impact of educational disadvantage on children’s development and improve outcomes in communication (language development), wellbeing (social and emotional regulation) and access and participation.
It is part of the Government’s landmark $202.1 million Education State Early Childhood Reform Plan.
The Victorian Budget 2018/19 invested a further $135.9 million toward realising the government’s early childhood vision.
Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos said the funding was essential.
“We know that one in five kids starts prep not ready for school and if they start behind, they tend to stay behind," she said.
“School readiness funding means investing in the things that will truly make a difference to a child’s life," she said.
Member for Western Victoria Gayle Tierney backed the funding.
“We’re investing in our youngest Victorians in Warrnambool and right around Victoria so they get the best possible start in life and make the most of these valuable kinder years,” she said.