Tēnā koutou katoa

A new way for treasurers to get support

As we get closer to the end of the year, we are getting some turnover of team members – both Centre treasurers and here in our national team. With the departure of Trina in the Finance team we decided it was time to reassess how we support our Centres with financial questions, as people are never quite sure who is best to ask.

To that end, we have set up a helpdesk style email – [email protected]. You can send us all your queries from how to change a Xero user to anything related to GST, invoicing or Xero support, and we will have someone in our team deal with your issue.

Of course, the Facebook page, Playcentre Treasurers, is also one of the most useful resources for quick support from your very own peers.  No question is a silly question and you will often find that the answer is immediately available.  

Are all rural Centres struggling?

Further to last month’s financial updates I asked what you wanted to know and the question above came up a few times. As with all financial questions the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. Overall, rural Centres do face greater challenges with lower population numbers and larger distances, often making support and even just basic utilities more expensive.  But that doesn’t mean they are all struggling, or that all urban centres are holding their own. In fact, the example last month for a Centre struggling with numbers actually came from an urban Centre in a very wealthy area.

For this post, I thought I would dig a bit deeper into an example of a very healthy rural Centre to squash the myth that all rural Centres are struggling.

This Centre came to my attention when we were doing some reporting to the Ministry of Education for high value Funded Child Hours (FCH) funding and it jumped out as being one of our top five income earners with more than $100,000 in FCH funding year-on-year for the last three years. It was also remarkable because it is in a small rural town in North Island.

I thought: “Wow! This is a Centre to be proud off.”

When I looked further into their books, I could see even more that this Centre not only contends with the struggles of being rural, but it is also low socio-economic and has special needs children.

What are they doing differently? The Centre has taken a paid-supervisor approach and its costs of employment are significant. However, it covers this comfortably with a large five-day-a-week role, not made up from a large population, but by the same children attending multiple days a week, many enrolled in as many as four sessions a week. If each child only attended one or two sessions a week, this Centre would be $25-30,000 worse off.

This Centre also runs a longer four-hour session every day, which increases their revenue by a staggering $25,000 per year and we can also see from attendance data that gives many of the children much more flexibility around their attendance times. Some of the younger ones attending later after their morning nap still have a decent session before the Centre closes at 1pm, while other children can do the morning and leave early.

 For many older children, the longer session is just what they need to make Playcentre their sole source of early childhood learning right through until the time they go to school.

This centre is a wonderful example of how being rural does not have to be a setback.  Strong community support, longer session hours and families committed to sending their children more days a week will keep a Centre strong, even in our rural communities.

Ngā mihi nui