Free Kinder and financial help

Key information

The Free Kinder initiative

As part of the Best Start, Best Life initiative, the State Government works to ensure access to two years of play-based educational programs for children before starting school.

This means free kindergarten is offered for:

  • between 5 to 15 hours of free kindergarten to three-year-olds
  • up to 15 hours of free kindergarten to four-year-olds.

Free Kindergarten is available to all funded Kindergarten programs. However, individual services have the choice to opt-in or out.

This may mean that some services charge a higher fee as they have opted not to participate in the free kindergarten program offered by the government. Additionally, they might offer programs with hours in addition to the free program and will charge fees covering the cost of the funded program.

To know if your preferred kindergarten has opted into the Free Kinder Initiative, please contact the kindergarten directly.

Costs of kindergarten

The government provides funding directly to the kindergarten providers to maintain low fees for families.

Each kindergarten provider sets their costs for delivering their programs which depends on the hours and activities offered. This is also dependent on whether the service offers sessional or integrated programs.

For more information on program types, visit starting kindergarten.

We encourage you to contact your preferred kindergartens for cost information.

Additional financial help

Families may be eligible for two main types of financial help when accessing kindergarten programs.

There may be additional financial help when accessing long daycare or other care programs. For more information, visit:

The two main types of financial assistance for kindergarten programs are:

  • Early Start Kindergarten (ESK)
  • Kindergarten Fee Subsidy (KFS).

Early Start Kindergarten

ESK gives eligible three-year-olds access to 15 hours per week of free or low-cost kindergarten.

Your child must be three by 30 April in the year they start kindergarten and meet one of the following criteria:

  • they are from a refugee or asylum seeker background
  • they identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • the family has had contact with Child Protection.

Children can also access free or low-cost four-year-old kindergarten through the Early Start Kindergarten Extension Grant.

The Kindergarten Fee Subsidy

KFS gives eligible four-year-olds access to 15 hours per week of free or low-cost kindergarten. Your child is eligible for the kindergarten fee subsidy if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • they identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • they identified on their birth certificate as being a multiple birth child (triplets or more)
  • the parent, guardian or child holds one of the following:
    • Commonwealth Health Care Card
    • Commonwealth Pensioner Concession Card
    • Department of Veterans Affairs Gold Card or White Card
    • refugee or Asylum Seeker visa (200-204, 786 or 866)
    • bridging visas for any of the above Refugee or Asylum Seeker visas.

Contact the kindergarten directly about these subsidies or contact the Stonnington Central Registration Officer at or 03 8290 1690.