Kindergarten General Information

Kindergarten is an important step for young children and is strongly recommended for all children.

Research shows that kindergarten improves children’s health and wellbeing, helps them to develop strong social skills and encourages a love of learning. Children who go to a kindergarten program are more independent and confident and are more likely to make a smooth transition to primary school (Prep).  

Source: Department of Education and Training – All About Kindergarten © State of Victoria August 2015

Early Start Kindergarten (ESK) provides free kindergarten to eligible three-year-old children so that they can attend a kindergarten program delivered by a qualified teacher for 15 hours per week for two years before they commence primary school. 

To be eligible, your child must be aged three by 30 April in the year they will be attending kindergarten, and meet one of the following criteria:

  • is from a refugee or asylum seeker background, or
  • identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or
  • your family has had contact with child protection

Any parent or child with an experience of displacement (a refugee experience or experience similar to a refugee) is eligible or will be considered by exemption for ESK.

Below is the list of visas which if they hold one of these the child is automatically eligible for ESK. In addition, this list now includes an approved exemption from the Department, or a current or expired ImmiCard in consideration that ImmiCards:

  • are issued to anyone on a refugee or humanitarian visa, or seeking asylum
  • have only been around since March 2013, which reflects a recent refugee or asylum seeker experience
  • are considered a valid document, even if expired, by Home Affairs the issuing authority


A child from a refugee or asylum seeker background is eligible for ESK or the ESK Extension Grant if the child holds or has a parent or guardian who holds one of the following:

  • Refugee visa (subclass 200)
  • In-country Special Humanitarian visa (subclass 201)
  • Global Special Humanitarian visa (subclass 202)
  • Emergency Rescue Visa (subclass 203)
  • Woman at Risk visa (subclass 204)
  • Humanitarian Stay visa (subclass 449)
  • Temporary Protection visa (subclass 785)
  • Temporary (Humanitarian Concern) visa (subclass 786)
  • Safe Haven Enterprise visa (subclass 790)
  • Protection visa (subclass 866)
  • A Bridging visa, and is in the process of applying for one of the above Refugee or Humanitarian visas.
  • Current or expired ImmiCard
  • An approved exemption from the Department


Applications for Early Start Kindergarten funding are made by the kindergarten service on your behalf and the grant is paid directly to the service.

For a confidential discussion about your eligibility for ESK please contact your MCH nurse, Council’s Central Registration officer or contact the relevant Department of Education and Training office.

Early Start Kindergarten is designed to enable children who can most benefit from early childhood education access to two years of kindergarten.

For more information about Early Start Kindergarten from the State Government including translated resources, visit: Early Start Kindergarten - Further Information

Use the Victorian Government’s age calculator to find out when your child can start kindergarten: Give your child the best start | Victorian Government (

Three-year-old Kindergarten

Victoria is the first state or territory in Australia to offer universal funded three-year-old kindergarten.

Three-year-old kindergarten is available for children who turn three before 30 April each year, two years before they are eligible to commence primary school.

Families with children who turn three between 1 January and 30 April can choose which year to start three-year-old kindergarten. They can start in the same year they turn three, or in the year they turn four (prior to 30 April).

Due to staff requirements, some services may ask that children start attending at kindergarten only after their third birthday. This may mean that some children may not start until part-way into Term 1 and have less time overall as part of a three-year-old kindergarten program, in comparison to their peers.

If this is the case for your child and you accept a place, services will hold your child’s place until they are old enough and only charge you fees for the weeks your child attends. Kindergarten services will discuss with you directly about how they can support your child to join their program once they turn three.

It is important to note that all children in a three-year-old kindergarten program will move onto four-year-old kindergarten the following year. A second year of three-year-old kindergarten is not available.

Helpful resources for families

Use the Victorian Government’s age calculator to find out when your child can start kindergarten: Give your child the best start | Victorian Government (

The Department of Education have put together this FAQ sheet to help families decide the best time for their child to start kindergarten: Starting 3-year-old Kindergarten(PDF, 626KB)

Council's Ready for Kindergarten brochure contains important information to help families make a decision about kindergarten readiness: Ready for Kindergarten Brochure - 2023(PDF, 852KB)

Four-year-old Kindergarten

Four-year-old kindergarten is available for children who turn four before 30 April each year, in the year before they are eligible to commence primary school. Four-year-old kindergarten is delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher. All Victorian children are eligible for 15 hours per week (or 600 hours) of funded kindergarten in the year before they commence primary school.

Kindergarten in Long Day Care Centres

The majority of Long Day Care services offer an integrated kindergarten program. Families will be able to access high quality kindergarten and extended hours of care. Further information about these services is available directly from the service provider.

We encourage all families to arrange a visit or attend any open days offered at your preferred kindergartens.

Additional information about choosing a kindergarten is available here

The Government’s No Jab No Play laws require all children to be age-appropriately immunised before placement at kindergarten can be confirmed. You will be contacted directly by the kindergarten to obtain evidence, in the form of an immunisation statement that your child:

  • is fully vaccinated for their age, or

  • is on a recognised catch-up schedule if their child has fallen behind with their vaccinations, or

  • has a medical reason not to be vaccinated

Conscientious objection is not an exemption under this legislation.

Further information available at: Frequently asked questions: No jab, no play