All kindergartens throughout the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges will receive funding as part of a new State Government initiative.
The School Readiness Funding program will help kindergartens access evidence-based programs and engage with professional support such as speech pathologists and occupational therapists.
The program is set to be rolled out across the state next year.
Eastern Victoria MP Harriet Shing said funding would help children in their early years of learning and build the capacity of families and educators.
“School Readiness Funding will mean that each child in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges will have a more equitable chance to thrive at kindergarten, regardless of their circumstances,” she said.
“We’re helping children very early in their education journey and setting them up to be lifelong learners.”
The $160 million investment over four years in this permanent needs-based funding is designed to help children – especially those experiencing education disadvantage – get the most out of their kindergarten programs.
It is expected to improve educational programs in the areas of communication (language development), wellbeing (social and emotional), and access and inclusion.
It is the first time in Australia such funding has been made available to kindergarten programs and is a permanent part of Victoria’s early childhood education funding.
About 28,500 children across 32 Local Government Areas and all Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations delivering a kindergarten program benefited from the funding this year.
Next year, all kindergarten programs in Victoria will receive the funding, reaching approximately 2,400 services in total.
Australian research shows that one in five Victorian children start school developmentally vulnerable and once behind, it can be harder to catch up.
The State Government is also investing $5 billion over a decade to deliver funded universal Three-Year-Old Kindergarten.