In recent years, several states have rolled out free kindy programs to give all children access to education services before starting school. Since 2021, New South Wales and Victoria have adopted varying versions of the ‘free kindy’ plan that include subsidised kindergarten for 3 to 5 year olds.
The ACT also announced its own free kindergarten plan in June which is scheduled to launch in 2024. The new plan will benefit 5,000 families by giving children from 3 years old one day of free kindy per week.
Palaszczuk said Queensland’s larger investment into free kindy will “put thousands of dollars back into the pockets of families” at just the right time.
“There are currently around 8,000 children who are eligible to attend a kindy but don’t, and it’s time to close that gap. Today’s announcement is a historic investment in Queensland children, their families and our state’s future.”
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How the free kindy program will help Queenslanders
Palaszczuk’s announcement is a sigh of relief for families looking for ways to make ends meet in a post-Covid world of inflation and rising interest rates. It will ensure children can access quality childcare and supports parents returning to the workforce or increasing their hours.
In a recent survey about free kindergarten, 98% of the 6,400 Queenslanders who responded said kindergarten would help their family.
Not only does a free kindy program help families financially, but it also gives all children access to a vital year of learning. Research has shown that early childhood education plays a crucial role in shaping a child’s development and preparing them for future success, particularly as they start schooling. One of the aims of the program is to improve educational outcomes for Queensland children.
It’s not just families who benefit, either. Already a burgeoning sector, early childhood education will see a further boost in enrolments and will attract more educators.
The cost of the new kindy subsidy is expected to reach $645 million over four years, taking the Queensland government’s childcare funding to $2 billion. The funding includes $120 million to attract and retain new and qualified staff to the high-demand industry.
Who can access the free kindy program?
Currently, around 14,000 children can access Queensland’s ‘Kindy Uplift’ program. Starting in 2024, another 50,000 children will be eligible. Eligible-aged children are those who turn four by June 30 in the year before they start school.
Families will benefit from free kindy regardless of whether they attend a sessional kindergarten or kindergarten in long day care. Free kindy applies to the 15-hour-a-week kindergarten program (600 hours a year) delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher.
All kindergartens will have the opportunity to offer free kindy if they meet the criteria set by the Queensland Kindergarten Funding Essentials. The department will work closely with the early childhood sector to introduce free kindy from 1 January 2024.
How much can a family save with free kindy?
The amount a family can save with free kindy depends on where and how they attend kindy. The state government said free kindergarten would save eligible families more than $4,000 per year on average, but some families could save up to $4,600 per year.
For example, if a family attends a childcare centre that charges $2,300 per term for 15 hours of kindy per week, they could save up to $9,200 per year with free kindy. If a family attends a long daycare that charges $110 per day for 10 hours of care, including 5 hours of kindy per day, they could save up to $5,500 per year with free kindy.
The growing opportunity in the sector
If you’ve ever considered investing in a childcare centre, there has never been a better time. Demand continues to grow as childcare services become more essential to today’s families, and government subsidies and funding make it easier for families to access care. There are several options for investing in childcare that our team of professionals can help you explore when you get in touch.