RESPONDING TO THE BABY BOOM: INVESTING IN THE EARLY YEARS

Posted on 27. Apr, 2010 in News

Victoria’s young children and families will benefit from an extra $82.6 million over five years in the 2010 State Budget to provide the best possible early childhood services for Victoria’s recent baby boom.

Premier John Brumby said the funding would deliver a comprehensive package to meet the growing demand for early childhood services across Victoria.

“Our Government understands Victorian parents want the best possible start in life for their children that’s why we are delivering more kinder places, increasing the skills of our early childhood workforce and building new and expanded facilities,” Mr Brumby said.

Making the pre-budget announcement today with Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development Maxine Morand, he said the early childhood highlights of the 2010 State Budget include:

  • $63.1million for an additional 3590 kindergarten places to meet growing demand;
  • $14million for building and expanding kindergartens and childcare centres;
  • $3.5million for early childhood workforce initiatives; and
  • $2 million for the Maternal and Child Health Line and Parent Line to provide timely advice for parents;

Mr Brumby said the Government was providing the best possible facilities and services for our growing suburbs and regional towns that had been touched by Victoria’s recent baby boom. 

Ms Morand said right now the number of babies being born in Victoria was more than 20 per cent higher – or about 12,000 more babies – than 10 years ago, with more than 71,000 Victorian babies born in 2009.

“Each of these children deserves the best start in life as they head towards kindergarten age so we are delivering 3,590 extra kindergarten places building on the 4,000 extra places funded in last year’s budget,” Ms Morand said.

“This package will ensure a place is funded for every child enrolled in kinder in the year before school.

“Victorian parents want the best future for their children and this funding boost is another example of how we are investing in early childhood services so parents can access the services they need.”

Along with the boost to kindergarten places, the Brumby Labor Government has committed $14 million to extend its successful four-year $38 million Children’s Capital Program. 

The Children’s Capital Program provides grants to support the construction of integrated children’s centres and renovation and upgrades to existing community-based early years’ facilities.

The Brumby Labor Government’s support of the early childhood workforce has also been strengthened with funding of $3.5 million over three years to support mentoring, leadership courses and professional development for early childhood professionals.

This funding complements significant recent workforce reforms including new workplace agreements which give Victoria’s graduate early childhood teachers salary parity with graduate primary and secondary school teachers.

“This funding will help lift the quality of staff expertise,” Ms Morand said. “A highly qualified early childhood workforce is an important way to ensure Victoria’s children reach their potential.

“We are working to make early childhood a more attractive career choice and our actions are supporting thousands of people working in children’s services to upgrade their skills and qualifications.”

In another baby boom boost, the Brumby Labor Government has also increased funding to the Maternal and Child Health Line and the Parent Line by $2 million.

“These confidential helplines provide information, advice and referrals for families,” Ms Morand said.

“Parenting, particularly in the first year, can be daunting and stressful, which is why we fund these helplines to provide timely advice all Victorian families can access, regardless of their location. 

“This is a significant funding boost for these services and will ensure they can meet increasing demand.”

Further information and related telephone numbers can be found at:

http://www.education.vic.gov.au/earlychildhood/mch/

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