May 14, 2020
Playcentre cast adrift in Budget 2020
The future of one of the country’s oldest early education services, Playcentre, is now under threat.
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 per cent of the 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. “
Playcentre is a parent-led service, but in order to meet Government regulations, many Centres employ trained and qualified supervisors. Mr McKinley says it will now be very difficult to compete in the early childhood education market.
“Playcentre has been cast adrift by the Government. We are urgently asking the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, to address our very real concerns before this unique learning choice is no longer available in the country where it was founded almost 80 years ago.”
For further information:
Gael Woods | Communications Manager
021 530 576