May 17, 2020
Mothers target Jacinda Ardern in Playcentre funding fight
Playcentre families, outraged by last week’s Budget, are taking their fight to the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.
Over the weekend, many Playcentre mothers have expressed their anger on the Prime Minister’s Facebook page.
They are upset about what they say is an insulting underfunding in the Budget, which now places about 100 Centres at risk of closure and poses a real threat to jobs.
Playcentre educates more than 7 per cent of New Zealand’s preschoolers, yet receives less than one per cent of the Government’s funding for the Early Childhood Education sector.
Its national body, Playcentre Aotearoa, says despite working over many months on a 2020 Budget bid with Ministry of Education officials, the small increase it received in the Budget is very disappointing and an insult to the valuable service Playcentre provides not just for children, but also to the parents who put in hours of voluntary work to maintain what is a unique organisation.
There are more than 420 Playcentres all around the country, with about a third serving rural areas where sometimes a Playcentre is the only Centre-based service.
Playcentre Aotearoa says it is those Centres that are the most vulnerable and may not survive the Government’s continued underfunding.
Playcentre also runs education programmes for parents as well as providing baby programmes for new parents.
Its General Manager, Sean McKinley, says the Budget has given Playcentre a total increase of $3.1 million over four years.
“The $3.1 million we have received amounts to approximately $675,000 a year for our organisation, or $1,685 per centre per year.
“We appreciate the new funding, but it comes after a long period of underfunding in which we received only a 3.1% total increase in funding over seven years.”
Mr McKinley says if Playcentre is to remain viable under its current funding, services will have to be cut.
“This will involve making staff redundant, decreasing support for our volunteer workforce and most likely closing centres that we can no longer afford to subsidise in high need areas of the country. “
“Families are feeling outraged by what they see as a lack of good faith on the part of the Government.
They feel very strongly that Playcentre is not just another early childhood service but a place that plays an enormous role in the lives of tamariki, whānau and communities, where it is often the hub.
“They are letting it be known in no uncertain terms that this is something they are prepared to fight for.”
For further information:
Gael Woods | Communications Manager
021 530 576