BENDIGO'S kindergartens may be under pressure when a government funded three-year-old kinder programs begin in 2022 that will mean more children need places.
2020 kindergarten enrolment numbers are higher than at the same time last year, but many centres still have vacancies, according to the Loddon Mallee Preschool Association.
But LMPA manager of finance and business operations Chris Cope saidsome of Bendigo's kindergartens were already full, without an extra cohort of three year olds.
The Victorian government has funded five hours of three-year-old kinder for all children that will be rolled out by 2022 across the state.
The program will begin in 2021 for Central Goldfields, Campaspe and Loddon. Bendigo, Mount Alexander and Macedon Ranges' will receive the program in 2022.
Mr Cope said for already-full kindergartens in smaller areas, it would be a challenge to find space for more three year olds.
"We'd expect our numbers to go up pretty heavily once the government funding goes through," Mr Cope said.
"It's a huge challenge for the government to find places for all of these kids now."
The LMPA manages enrollments for 28 kindergartens across the Loddon Mallee. It is a subsidiary of early years education provider Shine Bright.
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Mr Cope said Epsom, Spring Gully, Axedale, Huntly and Kennington kindergartens had the highest enrolment demands.
He said about 20 of the organisation's kindergartens still had spaces open for 2020.
Mr Cope said demand was increasing most strongly in Bendigo's growth corridors, such as Huntly, Epsom and Spring Gully.
Jenny's Early Learning Centres Bendigo managing director Darren Reid said there had been a consistent increase in enrolments over the past few years, especially at the Maiden Gully and Strathfieldsaye centres.
He said the government's challenge was the meet the need for three-year-old kindergarten with the number of different models working in the community.
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Mr Reid said as Jenny's Early Learning Centres offered long day care, it would be able to meet extra demand when three-year-old kindergarten was introduced.
He said the new three-year-old kinder program acknowledged the professionalism of the workforce, and the importance of early years education.
"Education doesn't start in primary school, education starts several years beforehand, really from birth," Mr Reid said.
"We know from Scandinavian studies that the early year is where we want to be supporting our families and our children for the best educational outcomes."
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