Kindergartens - cost of new ratios (17.9.2015)
Written on the 23 September 2015
GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)
My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Families and Children.
Community kindergartens provide early childhood education to thousands of Victorian children. The multiple benefits of community kindergartens are well known, not only the obvious education and engagement benefits for children but also parent engagement. Many parents volunteer their time and provide services to committees of management or become involved in supporting kindergartens by assisting with fundraising activities something they both enjoy and want to do. The kindergarten community can also provide support and social opportunities for many parents, some of whom are single parents or may themselves be disadvantaged, so the kinder community becomes a vital link to other parents and to other children of similar ages to their own. Very often the kindergarten is entrenched within a local community.
This year has not been a particularly easy one for many kindergartens and uncertainty for the sector remains. Base rate funding requirements have not been confirmed for 2016. The implementation of ratios has been hugely problematic, with many kindergartens still unable to guarantee that they will be able to implement the new ratios due on 1 January 2016 only four months away without having to pass on the additional costs to parents. This is something the minister has refused to rule out when questioned in this place.There is a clear need for additional funding for kindergartens in order for them to be able to implement the new ratios as required by the national partnership agreement without passing on the additional costs to parents. In some cases additional money will mean they are able to remain viable and open in 2016 and beyond. The action I therefore seek from the minister is that she immediately address these funding shortfalls so that certainty and viability for kindergartens is known and those Victorian families and children who want and deserve to be able to attend their local kindergarten are able to do so.