Victorian 2020/21 budget spending on ECEC surges as post COVID programs kick in
The Victorian Government has handed down their 2020/21 Budget in which commitments to the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector have surged to $219.4 million for the FY 20/21 financial year, an increase of 150 per cent on last year’s commitment as post COVID-19 programs dominate.
Overall the budget includes spending of $773.8 million allocated out to FY 2023/24.
Commenting, Ingrid Stitt, Minister for Early Childhood said “It’s been a difficult year for many families, balancing learning and working from home. This support will reduce the burden on parents and better support kids – at their kinder program, and as they move into school.”
Of particular note this year is the now well flagged commitment to support families with the costs of kindergarten amounting to $2,000 per enrollment at a cost of $84.8 million in the 2020/21 financial year and a further $84.8 million in 2021/22.
In addition, a total of $54.5 million has been allocated to a new program called “Supporting Victorian kindergartens” for which funding to free sessional kindergarten and also support kindergarten viability via extending early years management arrangements.
Investment in the Victoria Government’s signature “Ready for school: Kinder for every three-year-old” funding pool has grown significantly for the year with a further $258 million allocated over the next four years, the majority of which $204.7 million, is in 2023/24 building on the very sizeable commitment to the project in last years budget.
The 2020/21 Victorian Budget contains the following key allocations to ECEC:
- Maintaining access to high-quality and affordable kindergarten – A total of $17.8 million has been allocated in 2019/20 to ensure that initiatives focused on ensuring four year old access to Kindergarten continues. Examples include the Ratio Supplement, Kindergarten Fee Subsidy, Early Childhood Teacher Supplement, Rural Kindergarten Subsidy and the Kindergarten Inclusion Support program. A further $31.2 million has been allocated to the 2021/22 financial year.
- Ready for school: Kinder for every three-year-old – $17.9 million has been allocated to this initiative in 2020/21 with roll out scheduled in a further 15 local government areas this year and the rest of the state in 2022.
- Supporting families with children in kindergarten – A total of $84.8 million will be allocated in both 2020/21 and 2021/22 to fund free kindergarten programs in eligible services to support families with the costs of early childhood education amounting to $2,000 per enrolment and is aimed at supporting kindergarten participation, service viability, employment in the early childhood education sector and women’s workforce participation.
- Protecting children’s safety and wellbeing: Early childhood regulation – $10.5 million has been allocated to maintain critical regulatory functions to protect the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending early childhood education and care services in Victoria and to increase operating levels to address service growth and manage the risk profile of the sector. This builds on last years commitment of $5.2 million.
- Supporting Victorian kindergartens – A total of $254.5 million is provided for free sessional kindergarten in eligible services during 2020 and to support the transition to school in 2021. The initiative will also support kindergarten viability and provide support for additional kindergarten services to access early years management arrangements.
- OSHC Government school initiative – A new $81.6 million initiative will establish up to 400 new outside school hours care services at government schools with grants of up to $75,000 available to start these new programs, which will be available to both government and non-government students.
- Fast-track early childhood teaching courses – $4.8 million to fast-track early childhood teaching courses for 76 Victorian early childhood teachers.
In addition, the Victorian Government has committed $13.8 million to continue to rollout its Child Information Sharing Scheme program – Child Link and $2.3 million for it’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) program.
* Please note this article has been updated since first published to address an error in the interpretation of the Ready for school: Kinder for every three-year-old funding commitments.