Families could face a $1000 hike in kindergarten fees if the federal government does not continue its funding beyond December, Hume council has warned.
The government currently pays for five of the 15 hours of preschool children receive in the year before they start school. The other 10 hours are funded by the Victorian government.
However, the federal government’s contribution is set to expire in December, and Hume mayor Drew Jessop said the council faces a shortfall of at least $1.7 million a year if it is not extended.
“Families could be asked to pay an extra $1000 each year for a place at kinder,” he said. “There would be many families in Hume who could not afford this extra amount, meaning there will be children missing out.”
The council is urging families to sign a petition calling for the funding to go on.
“Preschool is particularly important in Hume where many families come from disadvantaged backgrounds … for some children, it’s where they first start learning how to speak English, and socialise with other children from the broader community,” Cr Jessop said.
The state government and the Municipal Association of Victoria are also calling for the funding to be guaranteed. State Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos said the federal government’s contribution is crucial.
But federal Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham accused the state government of trying to “scare parents and families with mistruths” about the funding.
“We are committed to working through these issues with the states and territories,” he said.
To sign the petition, go online at www.hume.vic.gov.au/advocacy