KINDERGARTEN enrolments have been streamlined by Ballarat City Council to help cut through red tape.
But several Ballarat families are worried that their children don’t yet have a kindergarten offer for next year.
So where is the system falling down? Does the enrolment system have teething problems? Or is the federal government’s universal access program, where all four-year-olds have to receive 15 hours of kindergarten a week, to blame?
Smythes Creek mother of three Caz Filmer thinks it’s a bit of both.
She said her daughter Georgie didn’t get into their kinder of choice, Sebastopol West, but did get an offer at Sebastopol South.
With her two older daughters having already gone through the system, Ms Filmer said this time was, by far, the hardest time enrolling a child in kindergarten.
“I didn’t realise there was such a huge issue with this,” Ms Filmer said.
“From what I’m aware of, a lot of kinders have had to cut back places.
“I can’t understand how the government could have made these changes to kinder hours because I’m pretty sure they would be aware of how many children there are out there because of censuses and things like that.
“They must have known it would put a big strain on the system.”
Ms Filmer said Sebastopol South had looked at four shorter days of kinder to cater for the universal-access requirements.
“But that’s not really preparing the kids for school.”
She also said she found the enrolment system more difficult than the previous system of putting in forms at a couple of kinders.
“I didn’t even know it had to go to council. I just don’t think they were prepared enough.”
But Ballarat City Councillor Des Hudson defended the system, saying people were just not familiar with it yet.
He said there were 77 families still on a waiting list, but 68 other families already offered places had yet to accept them.
“Once we know their intentions, some of those 77 families will be made a second offer. It just may not be to the kinder of their choice,” Cr Hudson said.
He said a centralised enrolment system would improve the issue in the long term and stop people having to “shop around” all the kinders.
“I don’t think the 15 hours of universal access is too much of an issue. It’s actually a better option for parents because it will fit in better with working hours.”
However, Cr Hudson said the centralised system would work better if all the local kindergartens took part, with several opting to continue with previous systems.
“But the uptake has been well received,” he said.