Council is calling on the Victorian Government to provide greater investment in buildings to house growing kindergarten services, as the rollout of state-funded three-year-old kindergarten puts more pressure on existing facilities and classrooms.
Council has identified five key infrastructure projects that together could create places for an additional 326 children in kindergarten services, and is seeking 85% funding for these projects from the Victorian Government:
- Knoxfield Kindergarten, Knoxfield
- Taylors Lane Kindergarten, Rowville
- Haering Road Kindergarten, Boronia
- Talaskia Kindergarten, Upper Ferntree Gully
- Alice Johnson Kindergarten, Ferntree Gully
Collectively these projects will cost $49.3 million and would not be possible for Council to fund without severely impacting our ability to respond to other community infrastructure priorities and financial challenges.
Knox City Council Mayor, Cr Susan Laukens said Council welcomes the opportunities of kindergarten reform but also recognises that it poses significant challenges.
“Knox recognises how quality kindergarten experiences can positively impact our children and we have a long history of investing in not only early years facilities but also service delivery,” said Cr Laukens.
“The Victorian Government’s initiative to provide two years of funded kindergarten before starting school will bring long term social and economic benefits to the community, but has also created a tipping point in what we can financially contribute as kindergarten expands.
“Our existing older facilities cannot be easily modified to meet growing demand, and funding available to address this is grossly inadequate.
“Many children may miss out without a significantly increased investment from the Victorian Government to support infrastructure needs. Without this, we can’t ensure the viability and sustainability of kindergarten services into the future.
“We need a true partnership which reflects a real understanding of the local challenges faced in implementing this reform, allowing us to forward plan and give our youngest citizens the best start in life.”
As state-funded three-year old sessions increase from five hours a week in 2022 to 15 hours in 2029, Council’s modelling has shown local early years facilities will struggle to meet demand. By 2029, a total of 359 kindergarten places cannot be accommodated in council buildings. This impact will be felt even sooner in Bayswater, Boronia, Scoresby, Knoxfield and Wantirna.
Council will continue discussions with the Department of Education and Training regarding a Building Blocks Partnership Agreement for co-investment toward these priority projects.