Labor Member for Macedon, Mary-Anne Thomas, and the Federal Member for Ballarat, Catherine King, are calling on the Abbott Government to guarantee 15 hours of preschool and kindergarten funding in the upcoming Federal Budget.

“Studies repeatedly show how important preschool and kindergarten is to give a child the best start in life,” Ms King said.

“In 2009 Labor set a goal to ensure every preschool child would get 15 hours of quality early childhood education every week”.

“Labor’s program has vastly increased the number of children attending kindergarten with 90% of children in most states and territories receiving 15 hours per week”.

“Here in Victoria the proportion of children attending preschool who are enrolled in a program for more than 15 hours a week has increased from just 7 per cent in 2008 to 80 per cent in 2013,” Ms King said.

“The Abbott Government is threatening to derail this highly successful program for children across Australia with their refusal to guarantee funding”.

At a visit to Trentham Kindergarten this morning, Mary-Anne Thomas said parents and providers were understandably anxious about the spectre of cuts.

“The uncertainty has put parents, kindergartens and preschool providers in a state of limbo with respect to planning next for year’s arrangements,” Ms Thomas said.

“Centre staff and managers are anxious that if funding is discontinued, they will have no choice but to put the cost back on parents, many of whom will be forced to take their children out”.

“The Abbott Government’s refusal to guarantee funding will see hours cut, fees rise and destroy universal access,” Ms Thomas said.

Ms King added, “With the Federal Budget around the corner, the Government is making decisions about this funding right now”.

“Cuts to Labor’s universal access to 15 hours will have a huge impact on the sector but at the end of the day, it’s the children who will suffer”.

“We are urging residents of the Ballarat and Bendigo electorates to sign the petition to save this program and let the Federal Government know how important it is to give every child every opportunity,” Ms King said.

Petition details and more information can be found at .