Three Bellarine Peninsula kindergartens can now take twice as many coastal children after major extensions through a partnership between the City of Greater Geelong and the Victorian Government.
Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development Wendy Lovell today officially opened new playrooms and renovations at Ocean Grove and District Preschool, Allanvale Preschool in Leopold and Portarlington Preschool.
"The Victorian Government is delighted to partner with local governments like the City of Greater Geelong to help deliver state-of-the-art kindergartens across Victoria," Ms Lovell said.
"These fantastic building projects mean three preschools have doubled their kindergarten places, which is crucial in growth areas like Portarlington, Leopold and Ocean Grove.
"More children will be starting their education journey in their local community, making some important friendships to last through school and even later in life," Ms Lovell said.
In almost 10 years, the number of births each year in the Geelong area has increased almost 18 per cent to 2,659.
"That's why the Victorian Government is supporting growing communities to expand their preschools and accommodate for more children," Ms Lovell said.
The City of Greater Geelong provided $1.38 million for the three projects, with the Victorian Government contributing $500,000.
Allanvale Preschool received an $810,000 upgrade, Ocean Grove and District Preschool received $625,000 for its extension, and Portarlington Preschool received almost $450,000 for extension works.
Local parents raised $52,500 for the upgraded preschools. The Allanvale Preschool Committee raised $12,500 for new play equipment, the Ocean Grove and District Preschool community raised $25,000 for further upgrades and the Portarlington Preschool community contributed $15,000 towards the outdoor play area.
Member for Western Victoria Region David Koch praised the fundraisers.
"These communities should be proud of raising such an impressive amount of money for these projects, and I'd like to commend them all on their hard work," Mr Koch said.
"The Portarlington Preschool extension has transformed the centre into an early childhood hub, with three and four-year-old kindergarten classes, playgroups, a toy library service and parenting programs.
"Local families will really benefit from the convenience of early childhood and family services at the one location," Mr Koch said.
Member for Western Victoria Region David O'Brien and Member for South Barwon Andrew Katos said today's announcement was vital recognition by the City of Greater Geelong and the Victorian Government of the importance of local preschools in small communities.
In addition to these developments Victorian Coalition election commitments provided a funding commitment of $2 million for an Early Learning Hub for Grovedale, $1 million for the Barwon Heads kindergarten and $500,000 for the Torquay kindergarten.
Ms Lovell also opened the Lara Lake Preschool's new $946,000 wing, adding a second playroom, an outdoor play area and a community meeting space, as well as doubling the number of kindergarten places available.
More centres will be built or receive upgrades or extensions similar to these, as part of the Victorian Coalition Government's record $26 million investment in early childhood infrastructure, which was unveiled in the 2011-12 State Budget.