Queensland Government makes kindy free through $645m funding boost
Kindergarten will be free for all Queensland children from 1 January 2024, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced this morning.
The initiative is expected to see a further 50,000 Queensland children benefit from free kindergarten, and to save families an estimated $4,600 a year.
The $645 million investment, the Premier said, “will help every Queensland child get a great start in life and support parents in their return to work”.
Currently 14,000 children receive free kindergarten, which is a 15 hour a week government-approved educational program that children can attend the year before they start school.
Queenslanders were asked what they thought about free kindergarten last month, which saw over 6,400 people responding to the survey. 98 per cent said free kindergarten would help them and their family.
The additional $645 million will take the total investment in kindergarten to $2 billion over four years. It includes increasing the funds to attract and retain a quality workforce to $120 million, with a portion specifically dedicated to getting staff to kindergarten services in regional and remote areas by providing things like relocation expenses and accommodation assistance.
The successful Kindy Uplift program, which provides targeted resources and professional development to services where children are more likely to experience disadvantage, will receive a $20 million boost to make a total of $112 million over the next four years. The number of services benefiting will grow from 930 to 2,000.
There is also an extra $15 million to boost support for children with disability and additional needs, taking the total to $91 million.
Queensland’s Education Minister Grace Grace said she was “incredibly proud” to be the education minister that’s bringing free kindergarten to Queensland.
“This is going to change the lives of thousands of children and families every single year,” she said.
“I have travelled around the state to hear from parents and services directly and read the responses to our survey. It’s clear free kindy makes a massive difference and that’s why we’re making it happen for every family in our state.”
The Government will now work closely with the sector to ensure it is ready for the expected higher number of enrolments in January 2024.
The vast majority of kindergarten in Queensland is delivered by private providers. There are around 130 state delivered kindies where no other service is available, with around 850 children attending. There are also around 150 children attending eKindy in the most remote areas.
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