Parents’ guide to free kindy

The first school term for the year may be only weeks away but it’s not too late to register little ones for free kindy. While some children in Queensland have already been eligible for free kindy the state government announced last year that the program would be extended to all children in Queensland, giving an additional 50,000 families access to early childhood education across the state.

There are close to 300 participating kindies in the Ipswich and Logan council areas and families can contact a kindy of their choice or search the Free Kindy Finder guide online (www.qld.gov.au/FreeKindy). Children can be enrolled if they will turn 4 years old by 30 June this year and the scheme allows for each child to attend 15 hours of kindy for 40 weeks in the year before they start school.

According to Treasurer Cameron Dick the initiative will provide a cost saving of up to $4,600 a year to families. It’s made possible by a $645 million boost to the government’s investment in kindergarten over the next four years. “There are currently around 8,000 children who are eligible to attend a kindy but don’t, and it’s time to close that gap,” he said. The free kindy offer is not affected by parents’ incomes, but if a child attends for more than the 15 hours per week then parents will have to pay the fees for the additional hours.

Families will be able to access the free kindy program at a government-approved sessional kindergarten or kindergarten in a long day care service which has opted in to the program (sessional kindergartens operate during school hours each school term, whereas long day care services can provide a kindergarten program as part of their extended hours of care).

Early childhood educators say kindy gives children the opportunity to explore new environments, build confidence and have fun learning, which has certainly been the case for young Bianca, the star of the government’s TV ad campaign promoting the free kindy message.

“Attending kindy has given Bianca a very strong sense of community, a variety of learning opportunities and self-confidence,” her mum Lauren Meredith said. “She has been able to get involved in bush kindy, outside active play such as the ever popular ninja ropes, plus puzzles and a planned visit from the fire brigade…they are always busy! And she’s already worn her school uniform to give it a test run!”

“We want every child to have a strong start to their education, that’s why the Queensland Government is making kindy free,” Mr Dick said.

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