Early years management in Victorian sessional kindergartens

Overview

Objectives

To determine whether the Department of Education and Training (DET) has supported organisations managing sessional kindergartens to meet the outcomes of the Early Years Management Policy Framework.

Issues

Kindergarten is a one to two-year program to help three and four-year-old students develop social, emotional, cognitive and physical skills. Kindergarten is not compulsory in Victoria, however, in 2018 over 93.4 per cent of children attended a four-year-old program, the year prior to starting school.

Kindergarten programs are provided either as part of a long day care arrangement or as sessional programs—limited only to the kindergarten program hours. Sessional kindergarten can also provide 'wrap-around' care that extends beyond the funded, teacher-delivered kindergarten program.

In 2017, 68 per cent of four-year-old kindergarten students attended a sessional program. These have traditionally been managed by volunteer parents on Committees of Management and local governments. However, Committees of Management have increasingly transferred their responsibilities to independent, not-for-profit early years management (EYM) organisations due to the time commitments and expertise required of the role. In addition to sessional kindergarten programs, EYM organisations may also provide other services such as long day care, occasional care, and playgroups.

DET's role includes regulating early education and care services in Victoria through issuing approvals for providers and their services. DET is also responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with their requirements. It also provides funding to EYM organisations, in addition to funding provided for the delivery of kindergarten services. Local governments are responsible for planning for early years services, and many provide infrastructure. Local governments can also take on the role of an EYM organisation.

In 2016, DET released its Early Years Management Policy Framework to provide for a more integrated and sustainable early childhood education and care system. The Early Years Management Policy Framework defines five outcomes. This replaced DET's 2009 Kindergarten Cluster Management Policy Framework.

This audit will assess whether DET supports organisations involved in EYM partnerships to meet the EYM policy framework outcomes.

Proposed agencies

DET, Glen Eira City Council, Early Childhood Management Services Inc, Glen Eira Kindergarten Association, Greater Shepparton City Council, Goulburn Region Pre-School Association Inc, City of Whittlesea, TRY Australia Children's Services and Goodstart Early Learning Ltd.

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