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The Victorian Coalition Government is working to ensure that all families have access to high quality early childhood services and receive support when it is needed most, in the vital years before school.
In a comprehensive package for children, the 2012-13 Victorian State Budget has delivered $79 million, the largest ever investment in maternal and child health (MCH) services and vital funding to protect Victoria’s vulnerable children in the essential early years of life.
The Coalition Government has invested $103.7 million to early childhood development which includes $62.7 million over four years for free Universal MCH services to ensure that all Victorian children have access to 10 free Key Age and Stage consultations.
$41 million has also been invested to support vulnerable children early in their lives as part of a whole of government response to the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children. This includes:
- $16.3 million for Enhanced MCH services to ensure babies and toddlers from vulnerable families have access to health, early intervention services and for maternal wellbeing;
- $8.3 million to support the continuation of Early Start Kindergarten to provide three-year-olds known to child protection services with access to free kindergarten services and funding to continue Access to Early Learning sites in the Grampians, Eastern, Western and Southern regions; and
- $16.5 million to support vulnerable families with children aged from six months to four years to engage in early learning activities including Supported Playgroups, the smalltalk program and the E4Kids longitudinal study.
Families are the cornerstone of our communities and providing children with opportunities to develop in their early years is vital. The Coalition Government will deliver immediate action to support early education development by:
- investing more than $80 million in the Children’s Capital Program for children’s centre upgrades and new infrastructure;
- ensuring the sustainability of kindergarten services in small rural communities by easing the burden of kindergarten fees and reducing the need for fund-raising through the provision of operational grants;
- providing more Kindergarten Inclusion Support places to enable more children with a disability or developmental delay to participate in kindergarten programs;
- recognising that parents have the most significant influence on a child’s life and providing better support for parents to maximise early learning and development opportunities; and
- responding to the need for workforce development, by providing additional maternal and child health scholarships and kindergarten teacher scholarships.
On national reform, the Coalition Government is seeking a better deal from the Commonwealth Government by negotiating to ensure that federal election commitments do not disadvantage Victoria’s children and families.
The Coalition Government will meet the challenges of a growing population and work to improve the quality of early childhood education by providing care services and supporting families so that all children have a great beginning in life. The Coalition Government will work closely with families, communities and local government to achieve improved outcomes for Victorians
These new measures build upon the $101 million invested in early childhood services by the Coalition Government’s in its first budget, as well as the achievements and policies listed.
Achievements and policies implemented
- $16.5 million for Engaging Vulnerable Families in Early Learning designed to support vulnerable families with children aged from six months to four years to access supported playgroups and strengthen early home learning.
- $62.7 million over the next four years for free Universal MCH services to ensure that all Victorian children have access to 10 free Key Age and Stage Consultations.
- $16.3 million for Enhanced Maternal and Child Health services to ensure babies and toddlers from vulnerable families have access to health and early intervention services and for maternal wellbeing.
- Secured the future of free three year old kindergarten for children in the Child Protection system by investing $8.3 million for Early Childhood Education and Care for Vulnerable Three Year Olds Known to Child Protection program and securing ongoing funding.
- Developed and launched the Small Rural Kindergarten Grants program, a $6 million election commitment to provide grants of up to $20,000 to eligible small rural kindergartens.
- $41.5 million to provide free kindergarten in the year before school for more than 18,300 low income families through the Kindergarten Fee Subsidy.
- $14.2 million to continue and expand kindergarten cluster management to reduce the burden on parent-run committees, co-ordinate the use of infrastructure, support the workforce, and work in partnership with other bodies to provide greater choice for families.
- $18.2 million invested to support kindergarten children needing extra assistance including $10 million to expand Kindergarten Inclusion Support Services so 246 more children with disabilities can attend kindergarten, and $8.2 million to continue the provision of 150 early childhood intervention services and 150 flexible support places.
- $3.7 million to maintain the Maternal and Child Health Line's capacity to answer more than 100,000 calls per year.
- $2 million to implement the Coalition Government's parenting strategy to provide support to parents.
- Provided $350,000 in funding to the Victorian branch of the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) to continue to support
ABAvolunteers in rural and expand current programs and support for parents and infants. Victoria
- Provided $180,000 to expand the Maternal and Child Health nurses scholarship program to provide an additional 50 postgraduate scholarships worth $3,500 each.
- Achieved record kindergarten participation in
, with a record 97.9 per cent of Victorian children now attending kindergarten. Victoria
- $3.7 million in additional funding per year for an additional 500 Early Childhood Intervention Services (ECIS) places.
- Funding announced for a kindergarten program to support ongoing learning and development at Royal Children’s Hospital.