Preschools urge government not to cut funding

CENTRAL Victorian children might not be able to attend kindergarten if federal funding is cut, the Loddon Mallee Preschool Association says.

Chief executive Phil Hocking said yesterday that if funding wasn't continued, costs would most likely be passed on to parents.

"If families can't afford it their child won't go to preschool," he said. "Some areas would be hit hard."

Mr Hocking's comments come after Victorian Premier Denis Napthine warned  Prime Minister Tony Abbott of the potential impacts of cutting the federal input of state-federal partnerships, which includes preschool funding.

Mr Hocking said some parents struggled to put their kids through preschool as it was, but if the federal government reduced its funding they may have to stop all together.

Mr Hocking said kindergarten played a vital role in preparing children for school and providing them with important socialisation skills.

Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said the move would be a "disaster" for Australian children.

Ms Chesters said the state and federal governments - of both sides of the political spectrum - had identified that it was important children attended 15 hours of kindergarten per week before they went to school.

She said the government should prioritise funding for early childhood education.

"All the science suggests the early years matter the most when it comes to the basic skills kids need to learn at school," she said.

"It's disappointing the government has not prioritised our youngest Australians and making sure they get a good start in life."

She defended Labor's record in government, saying the Rudd-Gillard governments invested in the community during the global financial crisis.

She said if the government wanted to reduce funding to get the budget back to surplus they should make cuts to areas other than healthcare, education and jobs security.

She said central Victoria had a shortage of kindergarten places and if the government discontinued funding it would have a terrible impact.

On the weekend Dr Napthine wrote to the Prime Minister outlining his concerns that a range of national partnership agreements were due to expire within months and required funding certainty to keep them afloat.

Dr Napthine revealed that without continued federal money, Victoria faced an estimated budget gap of $940 million over the next four years, which could result in services being scrapped.

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