Preschools across NSW are now working with the State Government’s new funding model Starting Strong, Journalist Sue Osborne writes.
Reaction to the funding model when it was introduced in October last year was mixed. The model is so complex it was difficult for many preschools to work out how the funding would impact on them.
Some are better off, some are not. Melinda Gambley is Director of Clunes Preschool. Clunes is a small village in the northern rivers region of NSW. The circumstances at Clunes means the preschool is one of those that will slip through the net and actually be worse off under Starting Strong.
Clunes is a low population area with a high SEIFA (Socio Economic Indexes for Areas) rating. There are simply not enough four year olds and equity three year olds to fill places. Unfunded three year olds will fill many places.
“We don’t get funding for these children so it throws the whole model out,” Melinda said.
Melinda is a member of the NSW/ACT IEU’s Early Childhood Sector (ECS) Council and the Northern Rivers Preschool Alliance, and she said there are other preschools in the same boat.
“The Department did a good job of listening to us about the tiny preschools with less than 20 children and putting in a safety net for them. But we have 23 children enrolled and just miss out.
“The timing of the funding announcement was not good as we had already offered places for 2017 by then anyway.”