01 DecImportant update on Vic Gov Free Kinder announcement
The Victorian Government recently announced an investment of up to $169.6 million to early childhood services providing funded kindergarten programs. This means free kindergarten for children attending their funded sessional kindergarten programs and reduced fees for children enrolled in funded kindergarten programs in a long day care service. Families that have children attending unfunded three-year-old programs in sessional kindergarten services will have the fees reduced by approximately $40.00 per week. Find out more
What you need to know
• Sessional kindergarten services will be supported to provide a free 15-hour kindergarten program through an additional per child payment of $2122.00.
• If the sessional kindergarten or long day care kindergarten normally charges less than the initiative amount in parent fees, the surplus can be used to support the broader service.
• In funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten where children receive less than 15 hours of kindergarten per week, the funding will be adjusted to the program hours.
• Long day care services with a funded kindergarten program will receive an additional child payment of $2000.00 to directly offset parent fees.
• Long day care providers will be required to directly offset he full $2000.00 payment from parent fees (the total bill) without calculating the cost of kindergarten hours separately.
• Sessional kindergarten services with an unfunded three-year-old kindergarten program, will be able to access a per child payment of $1600 for each enrolment in a program of five hours or more per week. If the program is less than five hours, the payments will be on a pro rata basis.
• All families with a child enrolled in a funded kindergarten program (four-year-old and three-year-old) will be eligible for free kindergarten.
• Families cannot receive the benefit twice, it attaches to one kindergarten program only.
• Kindergarten providers that receive Commonwealth JobKeeper payments prior to their phasing out in March 2021, will be eligible for the Free Kinder payments in full for the whole year.
• Funded sessional kindergarten services cannot choose to accept certain parts of the Free Kindergarten initiative. Participating services that have a funded kindergarten program must take the Free Kinder offer if they wish to access the unfunded three-year-old kindergarten funding.
• Payments will be made to service providers, not directly to families.
• If the service is participating in the Free Kinder initiative in 2021, any fee payments that have been made by 2021 families, must be returned to families in full within a reasonable time frame.
• If the sessional kindergarten normally charges fees of more than $2122.00 per child, per year, in accessing the free kinder initiative there is an expectation that service providers will provide a free kindergarten program in 2021, not charge compulsory out of pocket fees to families (voluntary fundraising is permissible) and refund any parent fees that have already been paid for 2021.
• Services can invite parents/carers who have already paid fees to voluntarily and explicitly agree that some or all of fees paid are retained as a donation to the service. This should be agreed in writing by parents/carers.
• In an unfunded three-year-old kindergarten program, compulsory parent fees can be charged, but they must not exceed the gap between the payment made by the government and the fee for 2021.
• Information on when services will start receiving the Free Kinder initiative will be provided shortly.
• It is not compulsory to for services to accept the Free Kindergarten initiative for 2021.
For further information please CLICK HERE to read the Vic DET Free Kindergarten Frequently Asked Questions or contact member services at ELAA.