The region's kindergarten operators are still unsure of details surrounding the state government free kindergarten program and what it will mean for services and families.
It was announced last week kindergarten would be free for three and four-year olds from 2023 which would be a saving of up to $2500 per child.
Services are awaiting further information about how the program will run. Current annual 2023 projected costs for 15-hours of kindergarten range from $1500 to $2400.
Warrnambool Three Year Old Kindergarten director Di Essenwanger said while details were unclear, any savings would be passed on to families.
The standalone, not-for-profit community kindergarten is already at capacity for next year with 56 families enrolled and another eight on a waiting list.
"For families it's going to be a massive bonus because they were expecting to pay fees," Mrs Essenwanger said.
"I don't know how much it's going to be or it it's going to be 100 per cent (subsidised). Last year there was a COVID free kinder initiative that came out and our parents still had to pay a small difference.
"It will be 100 per cent passed on. Whatever the government give us per child will be passed on and deducted from whatever fees the parents are going to be paying."
Warrnambool's King's College offers both three and four-year-old kindergarten and principal Allister Rouse said enrollments for next year were strong.
"With the 30 hours of four-year-old kindergarten coming in 2025 (as part of the government announcement) we're looking at how we can expand the program and the facilities down the track," Mr Rouse said.
"There's been a bit of lack of clarity and information about it. Because we're a private kindergarten it will be subsidised but it's not free for private kindergartens."
"The government provides subsidies to schools and we use that subsidy to offset the fees that we would charge to parents. It's about $2000 to attend the college for a four-year-old, but it would cost a lot more if we didn't receive the subsidies from the government."
"It will come through as funding to the school and that will help us keep fees as low as possible."
Moyne Shire Council corporate and community services director David Rae said it was yet to receive formal information from the government about the policy.
"With enrolments for 2023 still open and no formal information about requirements of the state government's policy, council is not able to determine if extra staff will be required or if we will need to increase capacity at our centres," Mr Rae said.
"The picture will be clearer once enrolments for next year close and we can determine what the demand for the service is."
Currently there are 268 children enrolled to attend one of Moyne's seven kindergartens across the shire (109 in three-year-old and 159 in four-year-old).
Corangamite Shire said it was yet to formalise its 2023 kindergarten program. Enrollments for its combined three and four-year-old sessions are still open.
Warrnambool City Council chief executive Peter Schneider said it was also awaiting advice about what free kinder meant for 2023.
"We anticipate this will be the same as last year's roll-out of free kinder where council's sessional kindergartens were free for families and long day care kindergarten program fees were reduced for families," Mr Schneider said. "Hopefully this will become clearer in the coming weeks."
Registrations for its three and four-year-old combined kindergarten program are open.
Mr Schneider said council had the physical capacity to accept more enrollments and had been hiring new staff.
He said council had been planning the delivery of three-year-old kindergarten programs for some time which included infrastructure plans for the future delivery of kindergarten and early years programs.
"The planning took into consideration the initial kindergarten reform and delivery but will now consider the new announcements from the Victorian government which are to be delivered over the next 10 years," Mr Schneider said.
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