ECMS commends the Victorian Government’s announcement yesterday to invest $2.3 million to enable more vulnerable children to access kindergarten via the Pre-Purchased Places program.
Jenny Mikakos MP, Minister for Early Childhood Education, made the announcement at ECMS’ Bridge Road Kindergarten in Melton South, a participant in the program’s successful two-year trial.
In her speech, Minister Mikakos said, “Pre-purchased places were first trialled in 2016 as a way of ensuring that vulnerable children who miss kindergarten enrolment deadlines or move during the year for whatever reason would be able to access a local kindergarten place. Over its two years, the program has supported close to one thousand children who may otherwise have missed out on the benefits of an early childhood education.
“From next year, pre-purchased places will be a permanent part of our kindergarten system. Around 600 places will be reserved right across the state, providing extra flexibility for families who enrol their children after the standard kindergarten deadlines have closed.”
Interim ECMS CEO, Dr Judith Slocombe warmly welcomes this announcement and says, “Securing ongoing funding for pre-purchased kindergarten places is a huge step in the right direction in supporting some of our most vulnerable children to participate in high quality early learning and care.
“The early years are a pivotal time in a child’s brain development, and we know from international research that early childhood education plays a massive role in supporting children to start school well. Starting school well sets children up for a life trajectory of finishing school, gaining employment and being a participant and contributor economically, socially and personally.”
ECMS believes the announcement is real evidence of the government working hand in glove with service providers, communities and families to ensure we provide the best possible opportunities for ALL Victorian children.
Eleven ECMS kindergartens, including Bridge Road, have been involved in this two-year pilot and we are now able to go forward next year with certainty that we can provide really high quality early learning and care to children and families that need it the most.
The Pre-Purchased Places program forms part of the Victorian Government’s Education State Early Childhood Reform Plan launched earlier this year. The plan outlines the government’s vision for the early childhood system that’s underpinned by quality, equity and inclusiveness. A system that supports all Victoria’s children, irrespective of their circumstances and background.
The plan comprises $202.1 million investment in programs aimed at ensuring every Victorian child can enjoy the benefits of kindergarten before they start school. In an Australian first, Victoria will invest $55.3m in school readiness for kindergartens funding, providing children in-need of additional support with access to services such as speech therapists, child psychologists and social workers to make sure they are ready for Prep.
Minister Mikakos says the Victorian Government will make further early childhood education funding announcements in the coming weeks and months.
Dr Slocombe says, “We look forward to the government’s upcoming announcements and to working closely with the government on rolling out these important initiatives, and providing early learning environments that enable all Victorian children and families to reach their potential.”