Council is considering its future role as a kindergarten service provider in response to Victorian Government reforms that will increase kindergarten by 15 hours a week for both three and four year olds over the next 10 years.
Council operates 29 sessional kindergarten sites at a cost of $3.3 million per annum. As hours increase, a key challenge will be the requirement for more classrooms and outdoor learning spaces at kindergartens.
Knox Mayor Cr Susan Laukens said while Council welcomes the government’s reforms, the rising cost of providing kindergarten services is diverting financial resources from other much needed services.
“We recognise that getting children into a formal learning environment at a young age is beneficial for their social, emotional and cognitive development,” she said.
“Council makes a significant financial investment into kindergarten services and facilities to support children and families but fully funding the additional resources required to implement the reforms is beyond our financial capacity.
“If Council decides to make any changes to how it provides kindergarten in the future, this will take some time to be implemented and will not affect planned services in 2023.
“We will convene a demographically representative community panel to ensure a high level of engagement, transparency and accountability in considering a full range of issues relating to kindergarten services.
“The panel will be informed by feedback provided from kindergarten families and the broader community. We need to ensure feedback is representative of our whole community and the panel will ensure the diverse views and perspectives of our community are heard.”
Council will appoint an independent consultant to recruit and facilitate the community panel.
The community will be invited to provide feedback on what Council should consider as part of the service review. This will commence in October.