Every child in Australia can have free or subsidised education in a preschool or kindergarten ('kindy') the year before they start school. This article will help you locate a suitable preschool and find out how to pay for it.
Should I send my child to preschool?
You don't have to send your child to preschool – it's your choice. But it’s worth remembering that research has shown preschool is good for children. It helps them do well, both when they start school and in the future.
The government funds early childhood education under a scheme called Universal Access. The scheme ensures that all Australian children can be taught by a qualified early childhood teacher for 600 hours in the year before they start full-time school. That’s about 15 hours a week for 40 weeks. Children can be taught at a preschool, child care centre, school or anywhere offers a preschool education.
How do I get Universal Access in my state or territory?
Wherever you live in Australia – even if it’s a remote area – your child is entitled to Universal Access.
The early childhood education program is provided by the education department in your state or territory. There will be differences depending on where you live: states offer different options and provide education in different places. You can find out what preschool options are available to you on raisingchildren.net.au.
Universal Access doesn't mean preschool will be free in all parts of Australia, but the scheme helps with the costs. You can talk to your local preschool about how much it will cost.
For example, you might be entitled to the Child Care Subsidy for preschool programs delivered in centre-based day care. This pays for 36 hours of subsidised care per fortnight. For more information, visit the Department of Human Services website.
How to find your nearest preschool
It's important to choose the right preschool for your child and your family. There are often several options available. Make sure you choose a preschool that is high quality – somewhere where you feel confident your child will be happy and safe.
Preschools are rated against the National Quality Standard (NQS). Those of exceptional quality in all areas are rated as 'excellent'. You can find a quality preschool in your area on the Starting Blocks website.
How do I enrol my child in preschool?
When you have found a preschool you like, you can enrol your child. Some preschools have waiting lists, so it's a good idea to start the process as early as possible.
To enrol your child, you may be asked to provide some documentation to the preschool, such as your child's birth certificate, your contact details, and details of any other people you authorise to collect your child from preschool.
Most preschools will also need your child to be immunised and will ask for your child's immunisation history. You can get this from the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register on the Department of Human Services website.
For more information, call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to talk to a maternal child health nurse.
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Last reviewed: May 2019