The state government launched its three-year-old preschool recruitment campaign, Better Start Better Life, with a 30-second television ad during the AFL Grand Final coverage.
Since April this year, the government has been researching the capacity of current infrastructure, providing grants to service providers and launching a range of early childhood workforce initiatives to help prepare the early childhood sector for the rollout of three-year-old kindergarten programs across Victoria.
Kindergartens and long day care facilities have been surveyed about their existing capacity, both in terms of their facilities and workforce. Some 2,600 surveys were completed – a 95% participation rate – in a survey conducted by Ernst and Young, providing a thorough picture of available capacity in the sector.
The Children’s Facilities Capital Program is supporting the rollout of three-year-old kindergarten. Applications have now closed but will reopen next year. In June, the first modular buildings were completed and are ready to be quickly deployed to support infrastructure needs.
A growing workforce is critical to the success of the rollout. Victorian Minister for Education James Merlino is attuned to the issues of attraction, retention and quality, and key stakeholders have requested a comprehensive workforce strategy.
In April, Merlino announced support to expand the early childhood workforce, starting with a $7.24 million fund encompassing scholarships and incentives to attract new early childhood teachers and upskill existing educators.
The department has since made more than 500 offers of financial support – find out more at education.vic.gov.au/childhood/professionals/profdev/Pages/scholarships.aspx.
There has been a specific focus on delivery in the first six local government areas (LGAs) for next year. Local advertising campaigns have commenced and toolkits have been provided to support conversations with families to enrol their children into three-year-old kindergarten programs.
Of the 40 services across the six LGAs in 2020, 36 will offer a funded three-year-old program. 26 of these will offer 15 hours, while 10 services will offer at least five hours. Approximately 550 children are currently enrolled in funded three-year-old preschool next year.
The department and early childhood stakeholders are continuing to work with the profession and local communities to support efficient and effective high-quality service delivery, promote positive engagement with the reform, and maximise the number of families participating to ensure a successful rollout.
Find out more at vic.gov.au/kinder
The government has also created some videos highlighting the benefits of three-year-old kindergarten – view them below.