About 40 kindergarten places will be reserved for children from disadvantaged families in Melton next year.

The reserved spots, part of the state government’s Pre-purchased Places Program for children of families who otherwise may not be able to attend kindergarten, were announced by Early Childhood Education Minister Jenny Mikakos.

Under the program, places are held for children known to child protection services, refugees and indigenous children so they can still attend a local service at no cost to families and carers, even if they miss enrolment dates.

Early Childhood Management Services, which operates out of the Bridge Road Community and Children’s Centre in Strathtulloh, was one of the first service providers to be involved in the program across 2016-17.

Ms Mikakos, who visited the Strathtulloh centre recently, also announced the program would become a permanent fixture of the kindergarten funding model.

“We’re ensuring kindergarten is fair by making pre-purchased places permanent across Victoria because we know the huge difference kindergarten has on a child’s life,” Ms Mikakos said. “We’re making sure more Victorian families needing extra help in accessing kinder don’t miss out on the enormous benefits early childhood services can have for their child.”

Melton mayor Bob Turner said the program allowed more children across the city to access vital education.

“We are so proud this program formed its roots in our wonderful city, and as a result, will be able to flourish across the rest of Victoria from now on,” he said.

More than 650 pre-purchased places in will be available for families at about 230 services across Victoria next year – up from the 450 places this year.