Victoria government logo

Early Start Kindergarten - English

If you are from a refugee or asylum seeker background you may be eligible for Early Start Kindergarten (ESK). ESK can help ensure you get the maximum amount of free kinder program hours possible each week for your child.

In 2023, Three-Year-Old Kinder programs are for between 5 and 15 hours each week and Four-Year-Old Kinder programs are for 15 hours. Enrolling through ESK guarantees the full 15 hours each week in both Three-Year-Old and Four-Year-Old Kinder programs. It is available for children who:

  • are from a refugee or asylum seeker background
  • identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • whose family have had contact with child protection.

No matter where they live in Victoria these children can access 15 hours of free kinder per week during the roll-out period. Their current access and hours they receive will not change.

How to apply

ESK is available in all kinder programs delivered by a qualified teacher. You can enrol your child by contacting a kinder near you and asking to access an Early Start Kindergarten grant. Kinder services are able to access a free translation service to support you in your language.

You can also contact the Department of Education’s Three-Year-Old Kindergarten Enquiry Line on 1800 338 663 or your local council for assistance. To get help in your language you can call the National Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450, ask the interpreter to call the number of your local council or the Department of Education, and the interpreter will stay on the phone call and interpret.

When to apply

Children are eligible for ESK if they turn three before the 30 April in the year they are enrolled to attend kinder. See ‘when to enrol’.

You can choose whether your child attends school in the year they turn 5 or 6. Then, they can access ESK in the year they turn 3 or 4.

If you need help working out when your child is eligible for ESK, you can contact the Department of Education, your local council, your maternal and child health nurse, or a kinder in your area, or any of the following organisations in your area:

  • Three-Year-Old Kindergarten Enquiry Line 1800 338 663
  • Brotherhood of St Laurence 03 9483 1183
  • Foundation House 03 9389 8900
  • Fka Children’s Services 03 9428 4471
  • VICSEG New Futures 03 9383 2533

Reviewed 25 September 2023

Was this page helpful?