The State Government has announced an investment of over $1 billion to provide reduced cost or free kindy for more than 800 Bundaberg children a year.
Local families will benefit from the investment over the next five years, with the package including:
- Free kindy access for 14,000 children a year
- Reduced fees for a further 26,000 children a year
- $33 million to expand Kindy Uplift from 400 to 930 services
- $38.5 million to help remote and regional services attract and retain early childhood teachers
- $95 million in support for families with children who have a disability
Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith said the kindergarten program funding overhaul was the most significant reform for the sector in more than a decade.
“We know that the first few years of child’s life are incredibly important and play a major role in their future,” Mr Smith said.
“That’s why we are increasing our annual investment in kindy from $130 million to $211 million per year, which means more than a billion dollars will go into our kindy services over the next five years, with ongoing funding after that.
“Here in the Bundaberg Region, that means 821 kids will get reduced price kindy, with 351 of those getting it completely free.”
Mr Smith said kindy participation had grown rapidly in the state.
“Queensland has seen kindergarten participation grow from 29% in 2008 to 96% today,” Mr Smith said.
“This is a significant change for the sector, and we’ll be working closely with providers in the coming months on things like software upgrades, contracts, and consultation with families to ensure they’re ready for the new program in 2023.”
Mr Smith said the package also includes an expansion of the Kindy Uplift program, and extra funding for children with disabilities.
“This increased funding means we can more than double the number of services covered by the successful Kindy Uplift program to 930,” Mr Smith said.
“Kindy Uplift funding means services can invest in personalised programs so children can reach their full potential. For example, funding could be used to provide a dedicated support worker or professional development for staff.
“We will also invest more than $19 million per year to enhance support for families with children who have a disability or are developmentally vulnerable, so they can participate in either community or long day care kindies.
“In addition, eligible remote and regional community kindergartens and kindergartens in long day care will receive a funding boost to use on things like accommodation assistance and relocation costs to ensure they can attract and retain a qualified early childhood teacher.”
Education Minister Grace Grace said the State Government was proud to be investing in Queenslanders' early years.
“We’re investing in our youngest Queenslanders, we’re investing in our families, and we’re investing in the Bundaberg Region’s future.”
The new kindy funding reform package is in response to the 2019 ‘Optimising outcomes for children: A review of early childhood education funding and arrangements in Queensland’.
Total investment in kindy from 2023-2024 will be $307 million. This includes the investment from the Australian Government.
There are 10 services in the electorate of Bundaberg that are currently part of the Kindy Uplift program with an additional 17 services to be invited to join the program as part of this announcement.
For more information visit the website here.
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