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About Three-Year-Old Kindergarten

  • Over the decade, the Victorian Government is investing almost $5 billion to introduce funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten. Children across the state will benefit from 2022. This will mean another year of learning, playing and making friends for all Victorian children.

    $5 billion in funding over the next decade. 6,000 new jobs. $1.68 billion co-invested in the building and expansion of kindergartens.
  • Funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten will become available in stages. Three-year-olds in 21 government areas are now able to access up to 15 hours of funded kindergarten each week.

    These areas are:

    • Alpine
    • Ararat
    • Buloke
    • Campaspe
    • Central Goldfields
    • Colac-Otway
    • Corangamite
    • East Gippsland
    • Glenelg
    • Hepburn
    • Hindmarsh
    • Indigo
    • Loddon
    • Murrindindi
    • Northern Grampians
    • South Gippsland
    • Southern Grampians
    • Strathbogie 
    • Towong 
    • West Wimmera
    • Yarriambiack

    These first roll-out areas have been chosen because they will have the capacity needed to offer kindergarten programs to local 3-year-olds.

    From 2022, 3-year-olds across the rest of state will have access to 5 hours of a funded kindergarten program each week. The hours will then increase to 15 hours a week for 40 weeks of the year by 2029.

    Three-Year-Old Kindergarten is a phased roll out.

    Children eligible for the Early Start Kindergarten program can still access 15 hours of free kindergarten each week throughout the roll-out period. Early Start Kindergarten is available for children who are either:

    • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
    • known to Child Protection or have been referred by Child Protection to Child FIRST

    To find out more information on Early Start Kindergarten, visit the Victorian Department of Education and Training website.

  • Children can attend a 3-year-old program at either a long day care (childcare) centre or at a standalone kindergarten. These are places that might also offer a 4-year-old kindergarten program. 

    No matter where your child goes to kindergarten, teachers and trained educators will lead the program.

    A long day care centre can offer a full day of education and care, including a kindergarten program. The teacher-led kindergarten program is integrated with additional hours of education and care. At a standalone service, a kindergarten program will only run on certain days and at specific times. These days and hours are set by the kindergarten service.

    Standalone kindergarten. Long Day Care Services. Integrated Kindergarten Programs.
    Standalone kindergarten. Long Day Care Services. Integrated Kindergarten Programs.

    Deciding where to send your child might depend on which services are available in your community, and what works best for your family and child. 

The benefits of attending Three-Year-Old Kindergarten

  • Research shows that play-based learning is a powerful way to support children’s development. And these benefits last into the school years and beyond.

    The evidence also shows that two years are better than one when it comes to early learning.

    A quality kindergarten program will have more of an impact for children who start at age 3 rather than 4. The benefits are even greater for children who are in vulnerable circumstances.

    Research shows two years of kindergarten will give Victorians the best start in life. Two years of kindergarten are better than one. It leads to even more positive effects on child development. Children who attend a kindergarten program are less likely to be developmentally vulnerable at school. Quality play-based learning is a powerful way to support learning and development. Key skills for life. Creative thinking, social and emotional skills, early literacy and language skills.
    Children in Year 3 who attended kindergarten were 15 to 20 weeks ahead of those who did not. At age 16 students who had attended two to three years of kindergarten had higher scores in English and maths. For every $1 invested in early childhood education, Australia receives $2 back over a childs life.
    ¹E4 Kids, University of Melbourne ²Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education Project, Department for Education, United Kingdom ³A Smart Investment for a Smarter Australia, PricewaterhouseCoopers & The Front Project
  • Young children learn about the world through play. It gives children the opportunity to use their imagination and practise important skills. It also helps their social and emotional development, and wellbeing. 

    In a kindergarten program, children use play to build their language skills and learn about numbers and patterns. They also learn how to get along with others, share, listen, and manage their emotions. Teachers and educators help children become curious, creative and confident about learning. 

    At kinder a children will learn about the world through play, to get along with others, share, listen and manage their emotions, to build their language skills and learn about numbers and patterns, and become curious, creative and confident about learning

    Kindergarten programs are designed to meet the needs of their local families. All kindergarten programs work with the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework. This makes sure the programs are right for children's ages.

Free and low cost kindergarten

  • Most kindergarten program fees are partly paid by the Victorian Government directly to the kindergarten. This allows children to access up to 15 hours a week of funded kindergarten delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher. 

    Families can access a sessional kindergarten service at low or no cost if the child: 

    • is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
    • is a triplet or quadruplet
    • is covered by a Health Care Card
    • holds an eligible concession card or refugee, humanitarian or asylum seeker visa, or their parent or guardian does

Choosing a kindergarten service

  • You may wish to visit a centre to meet staff to help you decide which service will best suit your child.

    Choosing a quality kindergarten service will ensure your child gets the most from their time at kindergarten. You can look at service quality ratings by visiting the Commonwealth Starting Blocks website. 

  • Families and carers with children born between January and April can choose which year to start at Three-Year-Old Kindergarten. This means that some children might be two when they start Three-Year-Old Kindergarten. 

    There are a few things you need to know when making this decision:

    • kindergartens are required to have a different ratio of staff to children, depending on their ages
    • some services might not have the number of staff needed to accommodate two-year-olds. For these services, your child must have turned three before they can attend
    • if your child turns three by 30 April and you'd like them to start kindergarten that year, you should still enrol your child. Services will hold your child's place until they're old enough to attend. The service will only charge fees for the weeks your child attends the kindergarten program, but may ask you for a holding deposit. This will then reduce your fees once your child starts attending.

    If you have any questions, contact your local kindergarten service. Services can contact 3yo.kindergarten@edumail.vic.gov.au for more information.

Enrol your child

Talk to your local kindergarten service about their enrolment process and timelines.

Your local area may operate a central enrolment process, to find out more contact your local council.

Reviewed 13 April 2021

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