Cheaper kindy for CQ families

MP Barry O'Rourke with Allison from Rockhampton South Kindergarten.

by Khrysti Balanay

Over the next five years, the Queensland Government will increase its annual investment from $130 million to $211 million allowing families to pay less for kindergarten.

Education Minister Grace Grace said the new package will make early education either free or more affordable for 40,000 kids and would benefit about 70 per cent of families that use kindy.

“For 13,000 families, that will save between $16 and $80 per week for the 40 weeks a year that kids attend kindy,” Ms Grace said.

For Rockhampton and Livingstone families nearly 1,400 will benefit from the funding package.

Member for Rockhampton Barry O’Rourke 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 a child’s life here in Rockhampton are incredibly important and play a major role in their future,” Mr O’Rourke 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 Rockhampton Region, that means nearly 1,000 kids will get reduced price kindy, with more than 350 of those getting it completely free.”

Member for Keppel and Assistant Education Minister Brittany Lauga said kindy participation had grown rapidly in the state.

“I’m proud that Queensland has seen kindergarten participation grow from 29 per cent in 2008 to 96 per cent today,” Ms Lauga said.

“This announcement means more than 400 kids living in the Livingstone Shire Council area will get reduced price kindy, and nearly 50 won’t pay anything at all.

“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 O’Rourke said the package also includes an expansion of the Kindy Uplift program, and extra funding for children with disabilities.

“We’re thrilled that this increased funding means we can more than double the number of services covered by the successful Kindy Uplift program to 930,” Mr O’Rourke 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.

Ms Lauga said there would be extra support for regional and remote kindies too.

“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,” Ms Lauga said.