Early Start Kindergarten

Research shows that an early start at kindergarten prepares children for success at school and has a positive impact later in life.

Early Start Kindergarten (ESK) provides free or low cost kindergarten to children turning three by 30 April in the year they'll start kindergarten and who meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • the child is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or
  • the child's family has had contact with Child Protection (or been referred to Child FIRST).

Since 2014, ESK has seen huge enrolment growth and significant increases in the number of hours children are enrolled in kindergarten. In 2018, 82 per cent of eligible children attended a kindergarten program for 15 hours or more per week, up from 60 per cent in 2014.

To guarantee that ESK eligible children have access the full 15 hours of kindergarten, they should continue to be enrolled in ESK, even if funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten is available at the service they attend.

Continuing to enrol eligible children in ESK will also ensure that service providers keep receiving all funding entitlements. For example, ESK enrolments contribute to School Readiness Funding calculations for service providers.

Furthermore, there will be no change to the administration of ESK funding. Service providers are asked to carry on providing the full 15 hours per week funded kindergarten through ESK and to submit applications through the Kindergarten Information Management (KIM) system.

ESK helps children with their language, development and self-confidence so it's important to maintain the gains ESK has made over the last five years. For more information, please visit Childcare and Kindergarten.