Start Strong case study video transcript
The New South Wales Government is committed to ensuring that all children have the best start in life.
Research tells us that 600 hours of quality early childhood education in the year before school has real learning and social benefits for all children. Here in New South Wales, we want all children in the year before school to access at least 600 hours of a quality early childhood education program. To do this, we need the support of our community preschools.
This is the story of how Wee Waa and District Preschool increased their enrolments of 4- and 5-year old children in a quality preschool program for 600 hours per year in the year before school, improved access for Aboriginal children, and improved their viability.
Carol Russell, Director, Wee Waa and District Preschool:
Well, first of all, we knew that changes were coming. We had to get a plan in place to how we're going to meet it and successfully meet it, so that it didn't impact on our community. So we then had to think… we can do this…
We had to change our days of operation, it was four and a half days that we were operating prior to the change. We are now five full days. We went from three staff members, we are now operating with five. One of the other areas that we also had to change was the intake of enrolment: who do we give priority to?
It's a balancing act, I guess, of looking at your community, at your demographics and ensuring that we cater for all of our children in the community. Something that we've been quite active in is ensuring that our Indigenous enrolments continue to grow.
Doing these adjustments… what we've also been able to do is to keep our fees at a rate that's affordable for all parents. With our Indigenous children, we offer two fee-free days.
We opened up our Indigenous bus service to cater also for our working mums and so if we didn't offer that to our children, they wouldn't be able to access our centre.
The 600 hours have worked for us and I think it can work for any preschool. We've seen an increase in our Indigenous enrolments, we've seen an increase in our enrolments in general. We've also seen an increase in our funding and we're going to be quite viable coming into 2017.