The best start for every Victorian child
The Victorian Government’s $14 billion Best Start, Best Life reforms are the most significant change to Victoria’s early childhood sector in a generation.
- Free Kinder: Starting in 2023, all children in Victoria who are 3 and 4 years old can access Free Kinder. This is available at both standalone (sessional) kindergartens and long day care (childcare) centres. This means families will save up to $2,500 per child each year.
- Three-Year-Old Kindergarten: The roll-out of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten continues, with programs increasing to 15 hours a week across the state by 2029, providing Victorian children with 2 years of a quality kindergarten program before school.
- Pre-Prep: In the next 10 years, Four-Year-Old Kindergarten in Victoria will change to 'Pre-Prep'. This means that every 4-year-old child can go to a play-based learning program for 30 hours per week.
- Early Learning Centres: We’re establishing 50 Victorian government-owned and operated early learning centres. We will build these centres in areas with the greatest need. This will make it easier for families to access childcare. The first of the centres will be ready in 2025 and will be co-located at Eaglehawk North Primary School, Moomba Park Primary School in Fawkner, Murtoa College and Sunshine Primary School.
The Best Start, Best Life reforms are providing all Victorian children — regardless of their life circumstances, background, or postcode — access to 2 years of quality kinder before they start primary school.
This means Victorian children will benefit, and so will their families – saving money and providing more options, making it easier for parents and carers, especially women, to work.
Kindergarten programs in Victoria
The benefits of attending 2 years of kinder
Free Kinder is available in Three- and Four-Year-Old Kindergarten programs across Victoria at participating services at both standalone and long day care services.
Free Kinder means a saving of up to $2,500 per child, each year, and also means more than 28,000 Victorians can return to work, including almost 26,600 of which are women.
Participating kinder programs will receive funding directly from the Victorian Government, so families are not out of pocket (and don’t have to claim the savings back).
For families with children enrolled in standalone kinder programs, Free Kinder means a free program at participating services:
- For 3-year-old children, this means a free kinder program of between 5 and 15 hours each week (200-600 hours each year).
- For 4-year-olds, this means a free kinder program of 15 hours each week (600 hours each year).
For families with children enrolled in kinder programs at long day care services, Free Kinder means a fee offset of up to $2,000 per child at participating services:
- For 3-year-old children, this means from $666.67 (for a child enrolled in the funded kinder program for 5 hours) to $2,000 (for a child enrolled for 15 hours).
- For 4-year-old children, this means $2,000 for children enrolled in a 15-hour kinder program (600 hours a year).
Long day care centres are required to pass on the full amount to families as a direct reduction in their out-of-pocket fees. This will provide a free program for some families and a significantly reduced cost for other families, depending on service fees, number of days attended, and the amount of Commonwealth subsidy received.
Your child can only access one funded kinder program at a time. This means that only one service can claim kindergarten funding for your child and pass on the Free Kinder savings.
Free Kinder is for every Victorian child, regardless of visa status. Find more information about kindergarten programs in your own language.
See what kinder is like
Experience a day in kinder, where learning through play makes every day a new adventure.
When to start Three and Four-Year-Old Kindergarten
Use the Starting Age Calculator to enter your child's birth date to find out what year they can start Three- and Four-Year-Old Kindergarten.
How much kinder costs
Finding a kinder that suits your family
To find services offering free and government-approved kinder programs with play-based learning, visit the Find a Kinder website.
Talk to your local kindergarten or childcare service about their enrolment process. A central enrolment system may operate in your area. To find out more, contact your local council.
All children starting free Three-Year-Old Kindergarten, including Early Start Kindergarten and Access to Early Learning, in 2023 and 2024 will be eligible to receive a Kinder Kit, helping them develop their love of learning at home as well as kinder.
The Kinder Kit contents have been carefully curated and provide educational and fun items to support three-year-old children to develop their skills and creativity as they learn through play.
Transitioning to Pre-Prep from 2025
Four-Year-Old Kindergarten will transition to Pre-Prep in stages from 2025. As Pre-Prep gradually rolls out over the next decade, children will receive up to 30 hours per week of high-quality, play-based learning in the year before school. By 2032, children across the state will have access to 30 hours of Pre-Prep.
Pre-Prep will be rolled out across Victoria in stages, ensuring our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children are prioritised for earlier access, no matter where they live, as well as Aboriginal children.
Read more on the Pre-Prep webpage.
This privacy notice explains how we will be handling personal information as part of the Best Start Best Life reform consultation and engagement approach.