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Rachel Wells

May 3, 2012 

Emily Smedley with Caitlyn and Addison.Emily Smedley with Caitlyn and Addison. Photo: Justin McManus

COMMUNITY groups, local councils and parents say the state government’s decision not to provide extra funding for kindergarten infrastructure will cause a huge shortfall in kindergarten places as they prepare to provide mandatory 15-hour programs for four-year-olds from next year.

Opposition spokeswoman on children Jenny Mikakos said she was ”very disappointed there wasn’t a single dollar for kindergarten infrastructure”.

Her concerns were echoed by Victorian Council of Social Service CEO Cath Smith, who said the lack of funding would particularly hurt families in growth suburbs.

Municipal Association Victoria president Bill McArthur said that, in growth areas such as Wyndham, 60 babies were born weekly, ”so it wouldn’t take long to fill a new kinder every week. It’s a scary thought, especially when we’re not seeing any new money.”

Emily Smedley, from Jan Juc, knows all too well the difficulty of securing kindergarten places in a growth area. Despite having her two daughters, Caitlyn, 3, and Addison, 2 , on kindergarten waiting lists since they were newborns, she has no guarantee they will get kinder places next year.

”They may both end up at kindergartens further away, closer to Geelong, because the demand around here is just so huge,” she said.

Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development Wendy Lovell has acknowledged the transition from 10.75 hours per week to 15 hours is going to be difficult for many kindergartens without adding new buildings or cutting other services, such as three-year-old programs.

She said the shortfall had been caused by inadequate federal funding.

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