Tēnā koutou tatoa
A really special outcome of the publicity we have had over our Budget concerns has been an outpouring of support for Playcentre, its importance and its values, which influence the lives of many long after they have moved on from childhood. One of the messages I found on my Linkedin page was especially noteworthy and I would like to share it with you. It seems to encaspulate so much of all the good that a Playcentre beginning provides.
Also in this Update, our CFO Marina Cook’s May Budget Update can be read here. Marina makes some really pertinent points about how we ourselves can help increase our funding.
Ka kite anō au i a koutou.
Kia ora tātou
From 1 July 2020 our funding rates have been lifted 6% and will be lifted again from 1 Jan 2021
We appreciate this is a huge boost for Centres and the largest funding boost Playcentre has received in 16 years. The $3.1m over four years, or approximately $775,000 per year, is going to make a huge difference to many of our centres, but we are also aware it is not enough to bridge the gap between rising costs and loss of inflationary increases over the past eight years.
I have had a few Centres contact me and ask how we can get more money from the Government. Of course, we are doing all we can at the Management end to get our plight noticed and re-negotiate with the Ministry of Education and Ministers, and we very much appreciate members’ input and their support through Facebook posts and other measures.
Another way to increase funding
Our funding is not absolute. We have been allocated $3.1m over four years in the Budget, but the Government cannot cap our funding because we are funded on a per/child basis. One way to help save our Centres and the wider organisation is to increase our numbers. More families at Playcentre equate to an increase in our bulk funding.
I had a Centre come to me with financial issues, forcing members to consider making their session supervisor redundant. In a chat with a Centre member, I learned the following. The Centre has a lot of members, but many attended only one day a week then attended a kindergarten or a creche on other days. I asked why with a paid employee the Centre did not encourage these children to be dropped off at Playcentre rather than attending another service?
The member said her son attended once a week with his grandmother. She then asked if it would make a big financial difference for her Centre if her son attended three days a week, once with his grandmother, once with herself and her new baby and once as drop-off.
So, let’s look at the numbers:
Current scenario – one child over 2 (not the 20 hours ECE subsidy) attending one session a week = $256.20 per year (after levies).
New scenario – one child over 2 (not the 20 hours ECE subsidy) attending three sessions a week and one child under 2 attending one session a week = $1,277.40 per year (after levies).
Increased funding – $1,021.20!
If four to five parents took up this option rather than closing sessions and making someone redundant, they could get their Centre thriving again. The member I spoke to was amazed that a few people could make such a difference to the survival of her Centre.
Some obstacles to attending more sessions at Playcentre.
Members often note that other services require children to attend for a certain number of days or they will lose their place. “My kindy requires us to attend four days, so I can’t attend Playcentre for more than one,” is not an uncommon comment.
These other services require this level of attendance to keep their funding up, but that in turn means Playcentre suffers – the funding is then going elsewhere to other often already well-funded services.
Another obstacle is for those working four days a week and who are unable to attend more than one day.
With more work-from-home options being made available as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and many people now negotiating one or two days working from home, this could be a great opportunity for some of us to reassess our children’s early learning.
Some options to consider:
Would you be willing to drop off your child/children at Playcentre rather than Kindy or another service if your centre offered drop-offs?
If your centre doesn’t offer drop-offs, but has paid supervisors – would this be something your Centre could introduce to allow Playcentre to give the children an opportunity to have a Playcentre full-service provider of ECE?
Would you consider attending on the weekend – what about opening a session on Saturday mornings for parents who can’t get an extra day during the week, or perhaps partners who want to experience what your child loves so much about Playcentre but is not available during the week?
These small initiatives would boost your Centres’ funding, and would also show that Playcentre is still an important, unique organisation, that builds community.
What would happen if we all took up some of these options?
If each Centre increased participation by 10 session attendances per week (or 5 under 2s) this would increase Ministry of Education funding by $2 million a year! That is 250% of what we received in the current Budget.