Victoria Kindergarten will remain free for families in Term 4 under a $ 26.7 million support package for early childhood education. The package will help parents defray the cost of the fees while paying about $ 500 per child, costing $ 13 million.
It also aims to protect the financial viability of kindergartens, some of which have been providing distance learning during Phase 4 restrictions. The money will go to local government, community groups, and the most delicate of schools.
The funding was announced as the state reported 28 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the lowest increase in cases in about three months.
Kinders are scheduled to reopen on October 5. Education Secretary James Merlino also outlined a $ 4 million plan to help children make the transition from kind school to elementary school next year. Usually, young children make daily trips to visit their local elementary schools to prepare for the next step in preparation.
Mr. Merlino said the program would flip this year and teachers would visit kindergarten. The teachers will interact with their children, interact with families, and make sure the children are ready for a successful transition, he said. There will be a focus on engaging children with disabilities, as well as children from indigenous or non-English speaking backgrounds.
Mr. Merlino said that about 5,300 children at extreme risk will have access to kindergarten for an additional five hours per week, to help them catch up with lost or disrupted education. We are talking about 5-7 percent of children who go to kindergarten at the age of 4 years. We will target those services that have a high percentage of underprivileged children, he said.
The package also extends kindergarten cleaning and hygiene grants, which have been available throughout the lockdown. This is not a normal year. We will make sure that this is a successful year of transition for these children and their families.
The Victorian government is moving to fully fund a three-year-old, too. Schools that already have this funding will also receive free courtesy for the fourth semester. There’s an additional $ 3 million in fee waiver for three-year-old programs that haven’t already been funded.
In the Victoria Regional District, school starts will go ahead due to change in restrictions and October 5 will be the first day of the fourth semester. Mr. Merlino said schools will make a local decision about when to start prep students.
The minister acknowledged that there are concerns that sixth graders will not be able to return to school. The priority groups are young children because they are the hardest in terms of the learning environment at home, and [students] with special and secondary needs.
Mr. Merlino said his daughter was seven years old, and despite realizing that this year was a milestone, decisions were made based on the best advice from health experts.