School Readiness Funding is a permanent and ongoing part of the Victorian kindergarten funding model.
School Readiness Funding supports 3-year-old and 4-year-old children in all early childhood education and care services delivering state-funded kindergarten programs in Victoria, including long day care.
Funding for my service
The amount of School Readiness Funding each service receives is based on the level of need of the children enrolled at their service. This is informed by parental occupation and education data (also known as Student Family Occupation and Education (SFOE data) as this is considered an accurate predictor of educational disadvantage. Similarly, SFOE data is used in schools to allocate 'needs-based' funding.
Funding for each service ranges between:
- $1,000 for services with lower levels of need and/or small enrolment numbers
- more than $200,000 for services with higher levels of need and large enrolment numbers.
It's important that the service accurately collect parents' occupation and education information each year as part of their enrolment process. Approved providers are required to enter this data into the Kindergarten Information Management system as part of the annual confirmation process that occurs in August each year.
This information is necessary for the department to understand the educational needs of children and determine funding allocations for services each year.
How services can spend their funding
Each year, approved providers are required to work with their to develop a School Readiness Funding Plan for each of their services. These annual plans should use local and service-level data to determine the needs of each service. Approved providers are also required to complete a mid-year review and an end-of-year acquittal to confirm how the School Readiness Funding for each of their kindergarten services has been spent.
The menu of evidence-informed programs and supports
Services will spend most of their School Readiness Funding on items from the menu of evidence-informed programs and supports (the menu). Items on the menu align with the 3 School Readiness Funding priority areas:
- communication (language development)
- wellbeing (social and emotional) and
- access and inclusion.
The menu includes a range of programs and supports that have been externally validated for how well they support children's learning and development. The Menu has been developed to help services make informed choices on how to spend their funding to improve outcomes for children. It includes:
- programs and services that target speech, language and literacy
- allied health supports (speech pathologists, psychologists, occupational therapists)
- programs and services that inform educators and families about trauma-informed practice, secure attachment and mental health
- resources and programs to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of children
- support for culturally and linguistically diverse children, and families
- tools for parents to support their child's development.
Services will work directly with menu providers to organise access to programs and supports.
A majority of funding (a minimum of 75% for services receiving over $5,000, and all funding for services receiving under $5,000) must be spent on items from the menu.
Services that receive over $5,000 in School Readiness Funding may spend up to 25% of their funding flexibly on programs and supports not listed on the menu. Items purchased using flexible funding must:
- align with the three priority areas or a local priority
- address educational disadvantage
- address the needs of the group of children in the service.
Flexible funding should not be spent on items such as infrastructure or information technology.
Services that receive under $5,000 in School Readiness Funding must spend all their funding on items from the menu.
Allied health supports have been engaged by the department to ensure that services receiving School Readiness Funding have access to high quality allied health services, including but not limited to speech pathologists and occupational therapists. Allied health professionals work in collaboration with educators and families, with the goal of improving outcomes for children in one or more of the three School Readiness Funding priority areas.
Services that receive over $5,000 in School Readiness Funding will have a portion of their funding allocated to pre-purchased allied health sessions. Allied health professionals will work with services to support teachers/educators to address the needs and goals for children and their families identified in their SRF plan. A list of allied health providers can also be found in the School Readiness Funding menu.
Services with an allocation of allied health sessions will be contacted directly by their local allied health providers in the first instance.
Services that receive under $5,000 in School Readiness Funding can also access allied health support through an at no cost. Services are also able to independently source allied health services through the allied health menu items (visit ).
Allied health support line
An allied health support line is available for services that do not receive an allocation of allied health sessions through School Readiness Funding (i.e. services receiving under $5,000).
Planning for School Readiness Funding
The following documents help services plan to spend their School Readiness Funding and use the menu of evidence-informed programs and supports.
Data literacy tip-sheets
The following data literacy tip-sheets have been developed by Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) in consultation with the department.
Using the kindergarten information management system
The Kindergarten Information Management (KIM) system enables services to view their SRF allocation, record and submit their SRF annual plan and support the ongoing planning process. For user guides, training and support on how to use this system visit .
Services are required to track how they spend their SRF allocation throughout the year.
At the end of the planning cycle, services that have received School Readiness Funding will be required to submit an end-of-year acquittal to the department. You will receive communication about this process in due course.
KIMs quick reference guides
A number of changes have been implemented in KIMS to support key SRF Policy changes for 2022 onwards. These changes are also reflected in the updated Quick Reference Guides:
Maximising your funding through collaboration
Services may choose to partner, or pool funding with other services to access programs and supports of shared interest.
Pooling funding may help services to:
- access programs or supports that are beyond the reach of a single provider's allocation, yet are identified as a collective need by multiple services in a local area
- support a larger community-focused initiative that needs sustained support to result in long-term practice change
- strengthen links with local providers and education settings (including primary schools), enabling a more collaborative approach to identifying and meeting the needs of children and families in the local community.
Extra support for services
Dedicated Early Childhood Improvement Branches have been established across Victoria to work directly with services to support the implementation of School Readiness Funding. They can provide advice, guidance and tailored support to assist services in the planning and reporting of SRF.
Reviewed 05 July 2023