VIC Government announces LOOKOUT program expansion
Victorian Minister for Early Education Jenny Mikakos has today announced a $3.4 million expansion of the LOOKOUT program, which supports children in out-of-home-care to access quality kindergarten programs, and effectively transition to school.
A further $570,000 for the Early Start Kindergarten program will provide more children known to Child Protection or from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds access to free kindergarten. Pre-purchased kindergarten places will be made available at approximately 200 services in 2019, with 600 places available for families and children known to Child Protection. Places will also be available to families from refugee and Koorie backgrounds, or concession card holders, so that they can attend a local service at no cost, even if they miss enrolment dates.
“This is about giving every Victorian child access to a good education and the opportunity to reach their potential regardless of background, place or circumstance,” Ms Mikakos said.
The Labor Government is investing more than $600,000 in 2019 to reserve kindergarten places to support families to overcome barriers of participation, such as late enrolment, relocation, or being in out-of-home care.
In addition, $1.7 million in grants will be provided to 52 local councils to support in the introduction or improvement of centralised enrolment schemes, with a broader view to streamlining the application process for families.
The LOOKOUT program was established in 2016 with an aim of improving the educational outcomes for school-age children in out-of-home-care. Effective from 8 October 2018, the program will have 13 new early childhood advisors who will work with local governments, kindergartens, and Maternal and Child Health nurses to better support children in out-of-home-care before they start school.
The early childhood advisors will work with the child protection workforce to enrol children in kindergarten programs, and with kindergartens and schools to support children to transition to school.