FISH Creek’s currently-being-renovated kindergarten building in Ryan Street welcomed the news of State Government-funded kindergarten for three-year-old children from 2020 on Thursday October 24, 2019.
Eastern Victoria MLC Jane Garrett was visiting Fish Creek to inspect the progress of South Gippsland Shire Council’s $367,155 project to extend and update the kindergarten.
“It’s lovely to be in the building and I can see the vision already coming together,” she said, amid still-exposed wall frames, stacks of plasterboard, and new plumbing and electrical work.
When it re-opens at the start of Term 1 the kinder will have a sensory alcove to encourage mental health and well-being, ramps for prams and wheelchairs, a consulting space for support services and meetings, and safe, modern bathroom facilities.
There will also be a bigger open-plan kitchen to further engage children in the kindergarten’s already impressive existing sustainable gardening, food growing and cooking program.
Ms Garrett said “Fish Creek is going to be one of the first kindergartens in Victoria to offer funded sessions for three-year-olds next year.
“The State Government is investing $5 billion over the next 10 years, which is a massive commitment to what is considered to be a critical investment,” she said.
“The earlier kids get quality education, especially during the formative years at the ages of three and four, the better their foundation for life will be, a fact that is known globally.”
Ms Garrett said a contributing factor towards achieving such a goal “is about creating spaces like this where children can learn and thrive, with interaction between indoors and outdoors.
“High quality teaching staff, together with parent committees and community support make places like this work to help prepare kids for school and to get the absolute best in life,” she said.
“I can already hear children playing and smell the homemade muffins!”
Prom Coast Centres for Children (PCCC) committee president Kate Woodward acknowledged South Gippsland Shire Council for rebuilding the Fish Creek kinder and also the State Government’s “investment in the roll-out of funded three-year-old kindergarten.
“This really is a fabulous thing for families,” Ms Woodward said.
“A kindergarten holds a special place in the local community as a hub for young families and it brings people together in all sorts of ways.
“The building works will give Fish Creek kinder a much more accessible entry, a sensory space to support kids with additional needs, heaps more storage, a great kitchen, improved bathroom facilities and a bigger office,” she said.
“Kindergartens everywhere will continue to need more and more educators to provide the widening range of programs.
“Prom Coast Centres for Children are run by a volunteer committee and all of us on the committee and families in our local communities welcome the announcement of funded three-year-old kinder from next year.
“Fish Creek Kindergarten will be offering 15 hours each of funded three-year-old and four-year-old kinder sessions of our nature-based programs per week and it will be open five days a week,” Ms Woodward said.
“Two years of kinder will help with the identified needs of children within our community, including emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills and social competence.
“Some families will have to travel to Fish Creek to attend three-year-old kinder as there’s no room at Foster and we’re working towards a three-year-old kinder space there.
“We are so pleased that kindergarten services are secured in Fish Creek and, looking into the future, the upgraded facility will be amazing,” she said.
“Now we will be looking to deliver better facilities for our services across all four of our locations, including Toora and Welshpool as well as Foster and Fish Creek.”
South Gippsland Shire Council administration panel chair Julie Eisenbise said she wanted “to particularly thank the volunteers because I know how much they do.”
At Fish Creek Kindergarten last Thursday was a nearly-three-year-old kinder kid, Killick McCormack of Fish Creek, aged two years and ten months, whose birthday is in December and who will be starting at kinder in 2020.
Killick’s parents, Sarah Parkes and Scott McCormack said they were very happy to hear the news about funded three-year-old kindergarten and to see the dramatic changes taking place at the Fish Creek Kindergarten.
“Our elder child attended kinder at Fish Creek and Killick is looking forward to going to kinder, too,” they said.