Queensland Government raises commitment to kinder with new funding announcement
The Queensland Government have confirmed new investment into the Early Childhood education and Care sector that will see more than 40,000 Queensland children benefitting from access to either reduced price or free of charge early learning according to the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Ms Palaszczuk described the kindergarten program funding overhaul as “the most significant reform for the sector in more than a decade” with the annual commitment increasing from the current $130 million to $211 million per year over five years and being allocated to families attending community kinders as well as long day care centres.
The new package includes the following contributions over the five-year period:
- $33 million to expand Kindy Uplift from 400 to 930 services
- $38.5 million to help remote and regional services attract and retain early childhood teachers and;
- $95 million in support for families with children who have a disability.
Participation in kindergarten has moved from 29 per cent of eligible children accessing in 2008 to 96 per cent accessing today, the Premier noted, saying “I want kindy in Queensland to not only be world class, but accessible and affordable too”.
“The cost of kindy is a huge barrier for many children and a great burden for thousands of working families across the state. This reform will help change the lives of thousands of Queensland children and their families,” she added.
The reforms, Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace explained, will commence from 2023, and in recognition of the significant changes required the Government will also work closely with providers in the coming months on things like software upgrades, contracts, and consultation with families to ensure they’re ready for the new program.
Ms Grace said: “40,000 children will benefit from reduced fees regardless of whether they attend a community kindergarten or kindy in a long day care. That means a family with one child in kindy could save up to $3,200 per year and a family with two children in kindy could save up to $6,400.”
It is expected that 14,000 of the state’s most vulnerable children will be able to access kindy completely free of charge.
Much of the funding announced recognises the diverse landscape of services who offer kindy programs, with opportunities to personalise funding use to suit.
Kindy Uplift, for example, allows services to invest in personalised programs so children can reach their full potential. For example, funding could be used to provide a dedicated support worker or professional development for staff.
Eligible remote and regional community kindergartens and kindergartens in long day care will receive a funding boost to use on things like accommodation assistance and relocation costs to ensure they can attract and retain a qualified early childhood teacher.
The kindy funding reform package is in response to the 2019 report; Optimising outcomes for children: A review of early childhood education funding and arrangements in Queensland, and brings the total investment in kindy from 2023-2024 to $307 million which includes investment from the Australian Government.
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