A brand-new $58.1 million School Readiness Funding program is being rolled out this year to Victorian kindergartens.
What is the School Readiness Funding Initiative?
Jenny Mikakos, former Minister for Early Childhood Education, expressed concern that children who start kindergarten already behind typically remain behind their peers, as their schooling progresses. To help children who enter school at an educational disadvantage, the Victorian Government is giving extra support to kindergartens.
The amount of additional funding each kindergarten program will receive is based on the educational disadvantage levels of its students. This is measured by parental education and occupation, as this has been found to be an accurate predictor of educational disadvantage. Victorian kindergartens will be required to continue collecting this information from parents, to ensure each kindergarten receives an appropriate share of the funding.
All funded kindergarten programs in Victoria (including long day care) will be included in this program. In 2019, kindergartens in 25 local government areas, as well as all kindergarten services run by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs), will receive school readiness funding. By 2021, the program will be fully rolled out to include all areas of Victoria.
Curious when your area will see the impact of this funding? You can view the roll-out schedule here.
What Services Will the Funding Pay For?
Kindergartens will spend most of their School Readiness Funding on items from this menu of evidence-informed programs and supports. These resources have been shown to effectively support children’s learning and development in the three priority areas – communication (language development), access and inclusion, and wellbeing (social and emotional).
The menu of services that kindergartens will be able to access includes:
- Speech, language, and literacy-focused programs and services
- Allied Health professionals, including speech therapists, psychologists, and occupational therapists
- Programs and services that support mental health, secure attachment, and trauma-informed practice
- Support for children and families across a range of diverse cultures and languages spoken
- Resources for parents, to help them support their child’s development
To help Early Childhood Education professionals figure out the best way to make a positive impact with their funding, bestchance is hosting an Early Childhood conference in August 2019. The Get Ready Conference 2019 will offer professional development workshops and help Educators select the best services for their individual kindergarten programs.
How Can You Help Your Child be School-Ready?
bestchance offers several programs specifically designed to help alleviate the stress of families facing a variety of challenging circumstances. These programs include in-home help, playgroups, and community support programs for families facing financial difficulty.
Some other ways you can help your child become school-ready include:
- Talking about and reading books about school with your child. Having an idea of what to expect school to be like can help them feel more comfortable and secure when it’s time to start attending.
- If your child’s school offers an orientation event, bring them! Taking their first peek at their new school can feel less intimidating with mum or dad there.
- Start a healthy sleep routine. When children don’t get enough sleep, their behavior and school performance suffers. Get your child used to a consistent sleep and wake schedule in the weeks before school begins.
- Read to your child as often as possible. It’s never too early to start! Even babies benefit from listening to an adult read aloud.
If you have questions or need help, please contact bestchance. With access to the right programs and services, your child (and your whole family) can benefit greatly!