What Does This Mean for Harmony Families in Queensland?
The Queensland Government has unveiled its ‘Free Kindy’ initiative for the coming year, which is great news for many Queensland families but can also be quite confusing.
Free Kindy aims to assist with cost of living pressures for families by offering 15 hours of free kindergarten per week for up to 40 weeks of the year. However, the implementation may vary based on your child’s centre, eligibility, and attendance days/sessions.
Harmony is proud to be part of the Free Kindy initiative, as a long day care centre offering a Government approved Kindergarten program. However, it’s crucial to understand that Free Kindy might not cover the entire cost of your child’s attendance hours.
In many cases, the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) steps in to provide assistance for the hours outside of the allocated Free Kindy hours (known as ‘wrap-around’ hours) and/or additional days, if eligible.
Let’s have a look at a few examples of how it works:
- For a service with a 9-hour day session during a school term, and a 2-day x 7.5 hours kindy program, 7.5 hours per day for 2 days, are covered by Free Kindy. Families will be responsible for 1.5 hours per day of wrap-around care hours. The ‘wrap-around’ care charges may be eligible for CCS assistance depending on eligibility.
- In the case of a 10-hour day session during a school term, with an Early Childhood Teacher working 7.5 hours per day, 7.5 hours are covered by Free Kindy, and 2.5 hours per day of wrap-around care, will incur charges, which maybe eligible for CCS assistance.
For those children attending more than the scenarios mentioned above (e.g., 3, 4, or 5 days and/or during QLD school holidays), the additional days will be charged at the daily rate, with the CCS applied, if eligible. Harmony intends to synchronize the 40 weeks of Free Kindy with QLD school terms for ease and convenience.
Let’s explore some FAQs:
At what age is my child eligible for Free Kindy?
Children must be four years old by June 30, in the year they participate in the Free Kindy program (this is usually the year before they start formal schooling). Click here to access the Kindy Age Calculator.
How Does Free Kindy Work?
The QLD Government ‘Free Kindy’ initiative provides for 15 hours per week for up to 40 weeks, for delivery of an approved kindergarten program, which is typically delivered by an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT).
Is every day that my child attends kindergarten free?
Harmony operates a 7.5hr/day kindergarten program, typically delivered by an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT). That means eligible children are entitled to attend the program for 2-days per week as part of the Free Kindy initiative. Any days or hours your child attends outside of the allocated 15 hours (2 x 7.5hrs/day), will incur charges which may be eligible for CCS assistance.
What are wrap-around care hours?
Wrap-around care refers to the additional hours in a day beyond the ‘Free Kindy’ component, typically facilitated by educators other than an ECT. Harmony offers a 7.5hr/day kindergarten program meaning, the ECT may work a 7.5 hour shift e.g. from 8am – 4pm (with a ½ hour break). Any care required outside of these hours will not be covered by the Free Kindy scheme and will be paid for by the family, however this is where the CCS may assist eligible families.
Do I still have to pay for care when using Free Kindy?
Yes, wrap-around hours and care days, which extend beyond the Free Kindy component, may still incur charges. CCS benefits may apply to these additional hours.
Is ‘Free Kindy’ actually free?
Free Kindy covers the hours of the day where the approved kindergarten program is delivered usually by an ECT, for 15 hours (2 x 7.5hrs/day) a week for up to 40 weeks. While this part is free, wrap-around care hours, additional days and services may involve charges which may be eligible for CCS assistance.
Will ‘Free Kindy’ be available during school holidays?
For convenience, Harmony intends to align the Free Kindy program with QLD school terms meaning that the program will not be running during school holidays. Care hours for non-Free Kindy days such as school holidays, will be charged at the Centre’s daily rate which may be eligible for CCS assistance.
Do I get any rebates from the government?
There are various subsidies available depending on your circumstances and eligibility including the Federal Government Child Care Subsidy (CCS).
If my child(ren) attend a Harmony Centre and meet the criteria, does that mean that we automatically receive Free Kindy?
In most cases, yes.
Do I need to do anything to start receiving this benefit?
No, Harmony processes all applications and the Free Kindy offer will be automatically applied.
My child is due to start Kindergarten in Term 2 – does that mean my 40 weeks of funding starts when they start?
Harmony intends to align the 40 weeks of Free Kindy with QLD school terms. So, if your child starts part way through the year, they will be given Free Kindy for the remaining duration of the school terms. (e.g., they do not get extra coverage to make up for lost days that they were not enrolled over non-Free Kindy periods such as school holidays and wrap around care hours).
We encourage families to consult with their Centre Director or Relationship Manager at their Harmony Centre for specific details on wrap-around care costs and policies.
For further information, please explore the QLD Government’s Free Kindy Website.