Early Start Kindergarten
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 (www.vic.gov.au)
Early Start Kindergarten Extension Grants
Children can also access free Four-Year-Old Kindergarten through the Early Start Kindergarten (ESK) Extension Grant.
The ESK Extension Grant provides a free year-before-school kindergarten program for children:
- not eligible for the Kindergarten Fee Subsidy (KFS)
- from a refugee or asylum seeker background,
- or Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander,
- or known to child protection.
A child is not required to access ESK in the previous year to access the ESK extension grant.