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Access to Early Learning (AEL)

Access to Early Learning (AEL) is a free early intervention program for three-year-old children from families experiencing multiple challenges. Under this program, eligible children are enrolled into a high-quality Three-Year-Old (3YO) Kindergarten program, and their families are connected to an AEL Facilitator. The AEL Facilitator collaborates with the family and the kindergarten service to address barriers and promote meaningful participation.

Who is it for?

Children in AEL are supported to enrol in 3YO kindergarten; therefore, they must be 3 years old by April 30 in the year they start kindergarten. Referrers will identify eligible children and families where more than two of the following exist:

  • contact with child protection
  • parent and/or child with an intellectual or physical disability
  • history of family violence
  • history of mental health concerns
  • history of sexual assault
  • parental history of alcohol and/or substance use/dependence.

Other experiences, such as homelessness, early parenthood, social isolation, and refugee experience are also considered to determine priority of access.

Please note, families referred to AEL experience complex circumstances that mean the Early Start Kindergarten (ESK) grant alone would be insufficient to support kinder engagement for a child.

What is available?

AEL provides families with an early intervention service delivered by an experienced and degree-qualified AEL facilitator. The facilitator visits each family regularly, establishes relationships with caregivers, and encourages effective in-home learning and support to ensure a child’s enrolment and sustained engagement in kindergarten.

AEL Facilitators:

  • develop positive relationships with families, supporting ECEC enrolment for children (including siblings)
  • address barriers to kindergarten participation such as system navigation and parental experiences of education
  • strengthen parent/carer capacity to support their child’s learning in the home
  • develop strong relationships with educators and ECEC services, building their skills, knowledge and confidence in engaging with children and families experiencing vulnerability
  • strengthen the links between in-home learning and the kindergarten program
  • support and plan for key transitions, including a child’s transition into Four-Year-Old Kindergarten.

AEL funding for kindergartens

The AEL program attracts additional  funding which is paid directly to the kinder service to support the child’s  enrolment and participation. An AEL enrolment in a  sessional kindergarten program is funded for $6,796 ($7,798 in rural areas),  compared to $2,563 for a standard kindergarten place. An AEL enrolment in a long day care (LDC) kindergarten program is funded for $6,796 ($7,798 in rural  areas), compared to $2,050 for a standard kindergarten place. Additional funds may be used to support the child’s enrolment and participation in kinder by covering:

  • enrolment fees
  • additional out-of-pocket costs for families such as excursions/incursions

How to access?

Professionals from the following services may provide referrals:

  • Enhanced Maternal and Child Health (EMCH)
  • Family Services
  • The Orange Door or Child Protection
  • Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drug services
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Outreach Officers
  • Preschool Field Officers
  • Best Start Facilitators
  • Koorie Preschool Support Advisors (also known as bupup balak wayipungang)
  • Early Childhood LOOKOUT Advisors
  • Supported Playgroups
  • Kindergartens and Schools

If you are working with an eligible family who requires specialised support beyond the Early Start Kindergarten grant, contact your local AEL provider and ask about the referral process into the program. AEL is available in 23 LGAs in Victoria - you can find your local AEL provider here.


More information about AEL can be found here.