Exciting news for families as the Government announces Free Kindergarten in 2024.
However, let’s dive into the details to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Free Kindy is a Government initiative to give cost of living relief to families. Free Kindy covers 15 hours a week for up to 40 weeks. This will look different depending on which centre your child attends, your eligibility and the days/sessions your child attends. Because Eden Academy is a long day care service that offers a Kindergarten program, Free Kindy may not cover all of the hours that your child attends. This is where the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) steps in to help cover the cost of these ‘wrap around’ hours and/or additional days, if you are eligible for CCS.
- If the service charges a 9-hour day session and offers 2 days x 7.5 hrs kindy program, 7.5 hours are covered by Free Kindy, and 1.5 hours of wrap-around care/education and care will be charged to families.
- For a 10-hour day session with an Early Childhood Teacher working 7.5 hours per day, 7.5 hours are covered by Free Kindy, and 2.5 hours of wrap-around care/education and care will incur charges.
- In the case of a 12-hour day session and 2 days x 7.5 hrs kindy program, 7.5 hours are free, and 4.5 hours of wrap-around care/education and care will be charged to families.
If your child attends more days than what the above scenarios address (eg 3, 4 or 5 days), then those days will be charged to families at the daily rate with the Child Care Subsidy applied, if applicable.
It’s important to note that while the Kindy component is free, wrap-around hours come with charges, and Child Care Subsidy (CCS) still applies to these additional hours. Families should check with their Eden center for specific details on wrap-around care costs and policies.
Here’s a breakdown of the details for each state:
Eligibility: Children aged 4 before May 1, 2024, are entitled to 4 terms of government preschool. A mid-year intake is introduced for children turning 4:
- Before May 1: Start at the beginning of the year
- May 1 to October 31: Commence at the start of term 3
- After October 31: Start the following year
- Targeted Child Subsidy: $1,890 per annum per child
- Recognized Disability Subsidy: $3,140 per annum per child
Terms and Conditions Apply:
- Targeted Child Subsidy is available for specific cardholders and visa holders.
- Recognized Disability Subsidy is for children with recognized disabilities.
- 3-year-olds must be 3 before April 30, 2024
- 4-year-olds must be 4 before April 30, 2024
- Up to $2050 for families over 2 x 7.5 hours per day for 40 weeks
- Early Start Kindergarten (ESK) for 3-year-old Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or refugee children: $6630
Does kindergarten funding in Victoria affect Child Care Subsidy (CCS)?
No, the funding is separate and does not affect CCS.
Eligibility: Children must be at least four years old by June 30, 2024, to enroll.
How Free Kindy Works:
- 15 hours per week for up to 40 weeks
- Free Kindy covers the educational component; wrap-around hours are charged separately
- Takes effect from mid-February 2024
General Q&A Section: Understanding Free Kindergarten in 2024
Is every day that my child attends kindergarten free?
While the educational component of the kindergarten day is free, wrap-around hours may incur charges. The specifics depend on your childcare center’s policies.
What is wrap-around care, and what could it look like for a typical child attending 4 days a week?
Wrap-around care refers to the additional hours beyond the educational component, typically when the Qualified Early Childhood Teacher is not working. For example, the ECT may work a 7.5 hour shift from 8am – 5pm (with a 1 hour break), any care you require out of these hours will not be covered by the Free Kindy scheme and will be paid for by the family, however this is where the Child Care Subsidy kicks in, if families are eligible.
Do I still have to pay for care when using free kindy?
Yes, wrap-around hours, which extend beyond the Free Kindy component, may still incur charges. Child Care Subsidy (CCS) may apply to these additional hours.
Is free kindy actually free?
Free Kindy covers the educational component of the kindergarten day for 15 hours a week for 40 weeks (during the dedicated teaching terms). While this part is free, wrap-around hours and additional services may involve charges.
Do I get any rebates from the government?
Yes, there are subsidies available depending on your circumstances. In South Australia, there’s the Targeted Child Subsidy and Recognized Disability Subsidy. In Victoria, there’s Early Start Kindergarten (ESK), and in Queensland, various subsidies are available, including the Targeted Child Subsidy.
If my child(ren) attend an Eden Academy centre and meet the criteria, does that mean that we automatically receive Free Kindy?
In most cases, yes. However, if your centre does not have a qualified ECT, is still waiting for service approval or is waiting for their application to be processed, Free Kindy will not apply. Please speak to your centre manager to confirm your centre’s eligibility.
Do I need to do anything to start receiving this offer?
No, Eden Academy processes all applications and the Free Kindy offer will be automatically applied.
My child is due to start in Term 2 – does that mean my 40 weeks of funding starts when they start?
No. The 40 weeks, refers to school terms. So if your child starts part way through the year, they will be given Free Kindy for the remaining duration of the school terms. (eg, they do not get extra coverage to make up for lost days that they were not enrolled over non Free Kindy periods such as school holidays and wrap around care hours).