Council endorses new service and infrastructure model for Casey kindergartens

The outcome of the City of Casey’s kindergarten service review was presented at a Council Meeting on Tuesday 16 April 2024. The review was conducted in response to the State Government’s Best Start, Best Life reforms, which outlines an increase in hours for 3-and 4-year old kindergarten in the coming years.

As part of its review, Council examined the impact of the reforms, the demand from population growth and the priorities of Casey’s current and future kindergarten families. The review found that by 2036, an additional 5,800 kindergarten places will be needed to be provided by the sector, which is more than double the size of Council’s current kindergarten service.

City of Casey’s Chair of Administrators Noelene Duff PSM said in response to the review, a new service and infrastructure model will be implemented.

“As part of this new model, Council will build infrastructure in line with population growth. This will ensure essential services will be maintained, with the ability to respond to other community infrastructure needs in a financially sustainable way,” she said.

“Council will continue to deliver kindergarten services, however there will be no increase in staffing levels. We will continue to offer services to our community in a way which is within our capacity.

“While we’ll keep doing what we’ve always done, and that’s offering high quality kindergarten service delivery, we’ll also have to work in with other providers in the sector.

“Council will package groupings of sites and run an Expression of Interest and alternative early year managers will deliver some of the kindergarten services, at various sites from 2026, to cater to the reforms and additional demand.”

Ms Duff said as sites move to other providers to manage, all current kindergarten staff will retain their employment, and where necessary, will be relocated to remaining Council kindergartens to enable us to provide the additional hours required at these sites.

“Council will work with the Department of Education to find another provider to operate the two kindergartens on school sites that we currently manage. This process will commence as soon as practicable,” she said.

“Given current workforce challenges and taking on the feedback from the market, a staged implementation of the new service model will be needed, to ensure the sector can respond appropriately. It is anticipated that this will take five or six years to fully implement this new service model.”

Ms Duff said Council’s priority is to ensure all future Casey families can access high-quality and free kindergarten services in their local area, regardless of who is delivering the service.

“Council will continue to play a strong role in kindergarten service through service delivery (within our current staffing capacity), the provision of current and future growth infrastructure and management of the Central Registration and Enrolment Service,” she said.

“We will also advocate strongly that the State Government, not-for-profit and private sector also play their part in delivering this reform.”

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