With nearly 6.3 million people now calling our state home and around 80,000 babies being born each year, Victoria’s early childhood infrastructure is under pressure.
Victoria’s growth areas are experiencing a baby boom, with 90 babies born each week in Wyndham and 70 in Whittlesea.
This election, Victoria’s political parties have an opportunity to commit to investing in a pipeline of early learning centres, through expanding existing facilities and building new ones.
By building more early years facilities in high growth suburbs and giving every child 15 hours of kinder each week for two years, this will help ensure every child has a great start in life.
When children participate in high-quality early childhood education, it lays strong foundations for their learning and social and emotional development. Children who attend at least two years of preschool are more likely to outperform their peers at age 15.
The 2017 report Lifting Our Game confirms:
“…high quality early childhood education leads: to improved school readiness, higher achievement and commitment at school, decreased special education placements, decreased grade repetitions and increased rates of high school completion”.
Emily Malone, Director of Bonbeach Pre-school, supports VCOSS’ call to expand access to kinder for every three-year-old and co-locate early years’ facilities with schools.
At Bonbeach Pre-school, families receive a unique experience of a kindergarten and school integrated in one location.
“This has huge benefits for families, as it enables parents to drop off and pick up their children from the one location and, significantly, it also allows parents to access the school’s before and after care program,” Ms Malone says.
“It also benefits children, as they become immersed in the school from their first day at kinder – whether it is visiting the school’s veggie garden and feeding the chooks, borrowing from the school library, or being buddied up with a grade five student when they start prep.”
“Being located on the school site means that you can run a good transition program from day one.”
Running a transition program has substantial advantages for children’s learning and development, as they feel comfortable even before they enter the gates on their first day at school.
“It also allows teachers to get to know families earlier and start to build important relationships that will help support their child’s success,” Ms Malone says.
VCOSS welcomed the recent election commitments by the ALP to build 785 new kinders and expand 170 existing services, make sure every new Victorian primary school comes complete with a kindergarten, and fund three-year old kinder.
As we enter the final days of the Victorian state election campaign, we call on all political parties to commit to investing in early childhood infrastructure, better supporting families by building kindergartens on school sites and supporting the roll-out of three-year-old kinder.