Call to action over funding crisis

Community preschool campaigner Bianca Urbina (front) is coordinating a Play Day protest in Lismore this Saturday to raise awareness about the local preschool funding crisis. Throwing their support behind the campaign are Jarjum Preschool staff (l-r) Briony Leonard, Aiden Rhodes and Kara Richardson with preschool kids (l-r) Diamond Carol, Jada Williams, Kailis Flanders and Jakem Roberts.

Parents are being urged to attend a Play Day protest in Lismore this Saturday, April 8, as part of a state-wide action over inadequate government funding for community preschools.

According to campaign coordinator, Bianca Urbina, community preschools havent been given a funding increase since 1989. She says even NSW Minister for Community Services, Reba Meagher, admits up to 30 preschools around the state may have to close in the next six months unless they get more money.

Ms Urbina says while most other states provide free preschool education, NSW has the most expensive preschool system in Australia, with the highest fees and lowest participation rates in the country.

She wants to see community preschools fully funded by the NSW government, and is calling on parents to make some noise over the issue.

Parents at partly-funded preschools have to do so much fundraising just to keep services running, she said. But there are some fully funded Department of Education preschools. There should be a consistent state-wide policy of providing quality early childhood education during preschool years.

Ms Urbina says a recent pay increase for childcare workers has compounded the situation, with preschools cutting back on equipment and staff training or reducing the number of places available and hours of operation. She said if preschools begin to close, a whole generation of kids will be missing out.

Preschools prepare children for kindergarten, but its more than just education, Ms Urbina said. The children learn social skills and parents get a much-needed break. Attendance at preschool means better family interactions and happier homes.

The Play Day protest will be held in Heritage Park from 11am.


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