The Queensland Government announced a $645m investment in free kindy in the 2023-24 State Budget today.
This will bring the Queensland Government’s total kindy investment to $2 billion over the next four years.
Through the investment, kindy will be free for eligible-aged children who attend a government-approved program offering free kindy, from 1 January 2024. All kindergartens will have the opportunity to offer free kindy.
Key features of Queensland’s free kindy program include:
- Funding for 15 hours a week in a government-approved kindergarten program, or 600 hours of free kindy a year, delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher.
- Availability to families regardless of whether they attend a community kindergarten or kindergarten in long day care.
- Free kindy from 2024 will remove cost as a barrier to participation and increase the opportunity for more children to receive the lifelong benefits of a quality early learning program. Extending free kindy for all Queensland children means more than 50,000 additional children will attend kindy for free in 2024.
The Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) welcomed the investment.
‘Increased public investment in early learning is precisely the right policy for the times,’ said Elizabeth Death, CEO of ELACCA.
‘Boosting early learning funding will help to deliver the “triple dividend” that we need.’
‘For parents, this means affordable kindy that enables them to work; for employers, the policy generates a greater pool of willing employees.’
‘Most importantly, greater funding gives children better access to a quality early learning program, delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher, which sets them up for a life of learning and achievement.’
To support the early education sector, the investment from the Queensland Government also includes:
- an increase to $120m in funds to attract and retain a quality workforce, with a portion targeting support for staff in regional and remote areas.
- $20m boost to the Kindy Uplift program, which provides resources and professional development to services where children are more likely to experience disadvantage.
- an extra $15 million to boost support for children with disability and additional needs, taking the total to $91 million.
“This significant investment in early childhood education will help to provide the best possible start for children in Queensland,” Ms Death said.