PRESCHOOL communities across the Hawkesbury are fired up and plan to take a stand tomorrow to protect their centres from possible closure.
Staff, children and parents from Wilberforce, Richmond and Windsor Preschools will join forces and participate in a state-wide Red Day of Action to protest against the NSW Government’s lack of investment in early education, and proposed funding changes.
Under the new funding model, money will be ripped from three-year-olds attending preschool and go to better resourcing four and five-year-olds instead, a move Director of Windsor Preschool Janet Wheadon says could be the ‘‘death of all centres in the Hawkesbury’’.
If the model, expected to be introduced next year, goes ahead, more than 30 per cent of children who currently attend Windsor Preschool will be affected.
“It’s just not good enough,” Mrs Wheadon said.
‘‘The government’s proposal to change how not-for-profit preschools and long day care services are funded means that Windsor, Richmond and Wilberforce preschools will be forced to charge higher fees for three-year-old children.
‘‘They have also suggested that some preschools will receive less funding. If this occurs our fees will have to increase for all ages.’’
It is understood that under the proposed model, the only three-year-olds who will receive a fee subsidy are those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Community Child Care Co-operative chief executive officer Leanne Gibbs told the Gazette the funding cuts could be detrimental to the Hawkesbury.
‘‘Being a smaller and more isolated area, it could mean centres will no longer be viable in the Hawkesbury.’’
In a recent message to preschool providers, the Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli said funding to early childhood education is not being cut.
"National Partnership funding will be used to provide more money to the community preschool sector from 2014 and preschools will be appropriately supported in transitioning to new funding arrangements," Mr Piccoli said.
"I am a great believer in the importance of preschool programs in preparing children for school.The current funding system that supports our community preschools, however, is inefficient, complicated and does not focus on achieving our objectives for early childhood education."
Mr Piccoli said the new system would see government funding for community preschools targeted at children in the year prior to school and three-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"I believe that these reforms are a vital and necessary step towards ensuring that many more families with children in their year before school across New South Wales can access the benefits of affordable, quality early childhood education," Mr Piccoli said.