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We're investing $14 billion to give Victorian children the best start in life. This means:

  • Free Kinder: From 2023, Free KinderExternal Link will be available for Victorian 3 and 4-year-old children at participating services in both standalone (sessional) services and long day care (childcare) settings – a saving of up to $2,500 per child, every year.
  • Pre-Prep: Over the next decade, Four-Year-Old Kindergarten will transition to ' Pre-PrepExternal Link ' – increasing to a universal 30-hour a week program of play-based learning for four-year-old children in Victoria by 2032.
  • Three-Year-Old Kindergarten: The roll-out of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten continues, programs will increase to 15 hours a week across the state by 2029 – providing Victorian children with two years of a quality kindergarten program before school.
  • Early Learning Centres: We’re establishing 50 Victorian government-owned and operated early learning centresExternal Link . These centres will be built in areas with the greatest need, and will make it easier for families to access childcare. The first of the centres will be available in 2025.
  • Kindergarten infrastructure: Significant investment in infrastructure across the state, including new kindergartens on or near school sites. Substantial grants are available to build, expand and maintain kindergarten services.
  • Kindergarten workforce: Increased investment to attract, upskill and retain early childhood teachers and educators – scholarships, incentives, traineeships and career advancement programs are available to support our skilled workforce.

The commitment: 2023/24 Budget

The Victorian Budget 2023/24 sets out additional investment of more than $1.8 billion over 5 years in early childhood education. This builds on our existing $4.4 billion investment in Best Start, Best Life, including Three-Year-Old Kindergarten, and takes our investment to date to $6.2 billion.

These investments are critical to the future success of our reforms, which will transform early childhood education, provide the best start for all children, support families with cost-of-living pressures and help parents get back to work and study if they choose. And because we know how important it is to make kinder accessible for all children and their families, we’re also funding practical supports to improve access, participation and inclusion.

This new funding includes $1.2 billion to provide the infrastructure development we need, as we continue our progress towards delivering 15 hours of Three-Year-Old Kinder by 2029 and 30 hours of Pre-Prep each week for every 4-year-old child by 2032.

The other key areas for the 2023/24 Budget investment in early childhood education are:

  • $546 million to support the continued roll-out of the Best Start, Best Life reforms, which includes Three-Year-Old Kinder
  • $28 million to support language learning in early childhood services
  • $20 million to provide every service with grants for toys and equipment, and to create new and support existing toy libraries and fund Bush Kinder programs
  • $18 million to support young children with disability, developmental delay and/or additional needs.

Benefits for children

A child who has attended two years of a quality kindergarten program will, on average:

  • have better cognitive, social and emotional skills when they start school (including better development in language, pre-reading, early number concepts, non-verbal reasoning, independence, concentration and social skills)
  • have higher exam scores at 16, including better grades in English and maths
  • have more developed social and emotional outcomes at age 16
  • be more likely to take more final year exams and to go on to higher academic study.

(Reference: Sammons, P., Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Siraj, I., Taggart, B., Toth, K. & Smees, R. (2014). Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education Project, Department for Education, United Kingdom)

Benefits for Victoria

Evidence shows that investment in early childhood education has significant social and economic benefits.

For every $1 invested in early childhood education, Australia receives $2 back over a child's life - through higher productivity and earning capacity, and reduced government spending on health, welfare and crime.

(Reference: A Smart Investment for a Smarter Australia, PricewaterhouseCoopers & The Front Project)

In addition, recent independent analysis from Deloitte shows that Best Start, Best Life will boost Victoria’s workforce by up to 24,800 FTE and increase the state’s real GSP by between $1.9 billion and $2.8 billion in 2032-33. By 2061-62, the benefits are set to swell further – delivering an average real GSP increase of between $4.8 billion and $7.9 billion, with up to 72,500 additional FTE per year.

Reviewed 11 September 2023

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