Kindergarten programs help children with their language, development and self-confidence. Research shows an early start and more time at kindergarten prepares children for success at school and has a positive impact later in life. Early Start Kindergarten provides free or low cost kindergarten to eligible three year old children where programs are offered by a qualified teacher.
Early Start Kindergarten is available for children who turn three by 30 April in the year they will be attending kindergarten, and:
- whose family is known to Child Protection (including those referred directly from Child Protection to Child FIRST), or
- are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
As of 2013, Early Start Kindergarten has increased to 15 hours per week. This aligns with the introduction of additional hours for four year old kindergarten and enables Early Start Kindergarten to be offered in mixed age or four year old groups.
An Early Start Kindergarten extension grant is now available. This allows four year old children who previously accessed Early Start Kindergarten but are ineligible for the kindergarten fee subsidy to access a kindergarten program for free or at low cost in the year before school.