The biggest reform in the history of early childhood education in Victoria has arrived.
In an Australian-first, universal funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten has now launched in 36 kindergarten services across six regional local government areas, kicking off a decade-long roll-out.
More than 575 three-year-olds are now attending up to 15 hours of a funded kindergarten program each week in South Gippsland, Buloke, Hindmarsh, Northern Grampians, Strathbogie and Yarriambiack.
The number of three-year-old children enrolled in these areas has leaped to 82 per cent in 2020, compared to about 30 per cent in 2019, when programs were unfunded.
In many cases, the hours of the kindergarten programs being offered have also increased this year.
Universal funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten is also creating opportunities for the early childhood workforce, with 20 new teacher and 20 new educator roles in the first six local government areas alone.
More than 4000 additional early childhood teachers and more than 2000 educators will be needed to deliver the reform over the decade.
Funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten comes to Leongatha
Speaking at the launch of universal funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten at Leongatha Children's Centre, centre director Paula Holt said the reform was 'something that early years' educators have dreamed about'.
'It's fantastic for the children of South Gippsland for us to be able to offer two years of funded kindergarten,' Paula said.
'It will make a significant difference to those children's lives.'
The Department's Deputy Secretary for Early Childhood Education, Kim Little, has thanked services and providers in the first roll-out areas and everyone involved in making early childhood education in Victoria bigger, better and fairer.
'It's been an incredible effort from a passionate sector, dedicated local governments, and deeply committed, skilled professionals,' Kim said.
'The desire to create the biggest possible positive impact in the lives of young children and their families is a constant in all of our shared work.'
'Congratulations to all those in the first roll-out areas.'
The Victorian Government has committed to investing almost $5 billion to deliver funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten, giving children access to another year of learning, playing and making friends.
When it comes to early learning, evidence shows that two years of kindergarten are better than one. Children who start kindergarten at the age of three have been shown to gain academic, social and emotional benefits that last into their school years and beyond.
Timelines for the roll-out across Victoria
In 2021, funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten will be rolled out to 15 more local government areas. In 2022, three-year-olds across the rest of the state will have access to five hours of funded kindergarten.
By 2029, all Victorian three-year-olds will have access to up to 15 hours of a funded kindergarten program every week for 40 weeks a year.
At full roll-out, an estimated 90,000 children each year will be receiving this important educational boost.
The Victorian Government is working with the early childhood sector to co-invest in new and expanded early childhood infrastructure.
For the latest information on where and when funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten is rolling out, visit Roll-out schedule
Find out more
For more information on the reform and the benefits for Victoria, visit Three-Year-Old-Kindergarten
Read about how funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten is creating opportunities for early childhood educators wanting to upskill, and financial support and employment incentives available, at Become an early childhood teacher