Westdale Kindergarten received a boost on Wednesday afternoon when the Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education, Sonya Kilkenny, paid a visit to announce a $500,000 grant for its planned extensions.
Westdale committee member, Ash Dixon-Tong, said they were aiming to increase the kinder’s capacity by more than 20 places, and hoped to have everything in place before the government’s rollout of funded three-year-old kinder in East Gippsland in 2021.
The project is worth $732,000.
Ms Kilkenny announced funding for two local kindergarten services, with support from the Children’s Facilities Capital Program (CFCP) Major Grants Program, the other being Gippsland Lakes Community Health Children’s Centre in Lakes Entrance, which will receive $378,000.
Ms Kilkenny said the state government was investing almost $5 billion over the next 10 years to deliver two years of funded kindergarten for all Victorian children.
“We are so proud to be rolling out funded three-year-old kinder in regional Victoria first, giving kids the best start in life. I look forward to seeing the impact this investment has in these local communities,” Ms Kilkenny said.
“Making Victoria the education state starts with the early years, which is why we’re delivering unprecedented investment in early childhood services, including upgrading facilities and rolling out three-year-old kindergarten.”
Westdale Kindergarten, run by teacher, Michelle Veenstra, is currently at capacity with 26 four year olds who spend two days a week each at the kinder. Westdale Kindergarten committee members plan to build a second room, improve the bathroom facilities and upgrade the kitchen, as well as the staff room and shared playground.
East Gippsland is a year behind South Gippsland, which will have funded three-year-old kinder in 2020.
The Labor Government is also upgrading infrastructure through a $1.68 billion co-investment with the early childhood sector to build and expand kindergarten facilities across the state in preparation for the roll-out.
Westdale’s educational leader, Michelle Veenstra said the kindergarten was at capacity with 52 four year olds who spend two days a week each at the kinder and 20 three-year-olds who attend a half day a week.
“We’re very excited to offer extended hours in 2021,” Ms Veenstra said.
PICTURED: Westdale Kindergarteners, Eve Tong, Nathan Whitelaw, Madison Robertson and Dusty Stephenson, with Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education, Sonya Kilkenny, Westdale Kindergarten committee member. Ash Dixon-Tong, and mayor, Councillor John White.