WIMMERA and Grampians kindergartens are facing shortages of staff and facilities as the state government extends the subsidised kindergarten program to three-year-old children from 2020.
Three-year-olds in six council areas including Hindmarsh, Yarriambiack and Northern Grampians will be eligible to receive 15 hours of subsidised kindergarten in 2020.
In 2021 the program will cater to a further 15 council areas including Ararat, West Wimmera and Southern Grampians.
The state government said the first roll-out areas had been chosen because they already have the physical capacity to meet local demand.
Northern Grampians will have three centres with the subsidised three-year-old kinder next year - The St Arnaud Early Learning Centre, Marrang Kinder and Aussie Kindies.
North Grampians mayor Murray Emerson said the council was "incredibly lucky" to be included in the first round of the program.
"The roll-out of funded three-year-old kinder in the Northern Grampians shire will provide a fantastic educational base for our next generation and relieve some of the financial pressures on families when it comes to early childhood education," he said.
Cr Emerson was confident the program would be a great success and that centres would be well-equipped for the changes.
"Centres have set up new rooms, ordered new equipment, and new qualified educators have been hired," he said.
"Enrolment numbers in the three-year-old program have been high across the three centres and we are expecting a really good uptake of the program from next year."
He said the kinders were ready, but could never be too prepared when it came to having enough staff.
"There are state government incentives for studying early childhood development so if you want to work in early childhood education in one of the best regions of Victoria, contact the Northern Grampians Shire Council to find out more," Cr Emerson said.
Ararat's Carey Street Kindergarten leaders said fundraising would direct money from a kitchen and garden program to instead extend their building, ahead of the three-year-old kinder rollout.
West Wimmera Shire Council early years co-ordinatorTracey Bone said people could access unfunded three-year-old kindergarten in 2020 for 7.5 hours a week, before it was extended to the full 15 hours in 2021.
She expressed concerns about the availability of early childhood educators to meet the needs of the program.
"Demand is predicted to be strong as we offer 7.5 hour days and childcare is limited in the area," she said.
The state government announced funding in July for Federation University's Wimmera campus to provide two traineeship qualifications - a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, and Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care.
Students who are eligible for government-subsidised training could enrol in these courses from 2020 as part of the free TAFE initiative for priority courses.
The state government said the funding would help the region "overcome critical shortages of qualified staff" in childcare centres, kindergartens and for out-of-school-hours and holiday programs.
Federation TAFE's executive director Professor Barry Wright said the Wimmera campus was excited to be offering the courses next year.
"We've been working closely with local childcare providers to gauge the demand for the courses and will offer them as traineeships, which is what local providers have made clear they prefer," he said.
"This means students will be learning while they work, which is great for both the student and the employer."
Professor Wright said Federation TAFE had recruited a teacher to deliver the new courses and would start advertising them in coming weeks.
Yarriambiack Shire Council and Horsham and District Kindergarten Association was contacted for comment.
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