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Priority of access policy in early childhood services

All early childhood services must have an enrolment policy.


An enrolment policy must explain what criteria the service will use to decide which children will be granted places if there are insufficient places available. It must include the following ‘priority of access criteria', and all families must be notified that it applies when they enrol their child at the service.

The Commonwealth Government’s priority of access criteria applies to all early childhood education and care except funded kindergarten places.

Commonwealth funded places - applies to all places except Victorian funded kindergarten

There are no requirements for filling vacancies.

Providers are asked to prioritise children who are:

  • at risk of serious abuse or neglect
  • a child of a sole parent who satisfies, or parents who both satisfy, the activity test through paid employment.

Providers are not legally obliged to follow this request and can set their own rules for deciding who receives a place. For more information refer to the Child Care Provider Handbook - Commonwealth Department of EducationExternal Link .

Victorian priority of access criteria for Kindergarten

The Victorian Government has priority of access criteria that apply only to funded kindergarten places.

The criteria requires services to give priority of access to children in the following order:

  • children at risk of abuse or neglect, including children in out-of-home care (OoHC)External Link
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children
  • asylum seeker and refugee children
  • children eligible for the Kindergarten Fee SubsidyExternal Link
  • children with additional needs, defined as children who:
    • require additional assistance in order to fully participate in the kindergarten program
    • require a combination of services which are individually planned
    • have an identified specific disability or developmental delay.

After offering places to children on the priority list, services may choose to allocate priority to children on whatever basis they choose as stated in their policy. This could be those with a link to the service, proximity to the service or other criteria.

Where there are insufficient places for eligible children, after prioritising using the criteria above, services must:

  • work with other local kindergarten services
  • the regional Department office to ensure all eligible children have access to a kindergarten place.

For more information refer to Kindergarten funding guide.

To contact your department regional office, refer to Office locations.

Reviewed 04 April 2023


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Quality Assessment and Regulation Division (QARD)

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