The loss of three Otago playcentres in the past two years
has prompted the Otago Playcentre Association to call for a
Government funding review.
Otago Playcentre Association president Carole Gillions said
Kaitangata Playcentre had gone into recess, Saddle Hill and
Waldronville Playcentres had closed, and several other
playcentres were ''on the edge''.
Saddle View Playcentre, in Fairfield, has since opened,
drawing from the
Saddle Hill and Waldronville centres, but Ms Gillions said it
still meant the region was down two playcentres in total, and
more could be lost.
She declined to say which other centres were at risk of
''The number of playcentres has reduced by two in the last 18
''There are now only 36 playcentres in Otago.''
Nationwide statistics show 15 of the country's 483
playcentres have closed in the past two years.
Ms Gillions said there were a number of reasons for the
losses, but one of the major issues had been increasing
Unlike other early childhood education facilities which
employ qualified teachers, playcentres are parent-led
facilities predominantly run by volunteering parents.
But because so many parents were now going back to work,
playcentres did not have the same number of volunteers, she
''It's especially noticeable in our rural areas, where you
need to have quite a significant number of children coming
along ... to give you enough funding to pay your regular
''We're having to pay for a lot more hours to employ people
as opposed to volunteer hours. ''We've got more employed
people now across the Otago region.''
Unfortunately, playcentres often did not have enough funding
to pay for the increasing employment bill, she said.
''We would like more equitable funding from the Ministry of
Education. We want a funding review.''
Ministry of Education early years, parents and whanau deputy
secretary Rawiri Brell said playcentres were an important
part of early childhood education in New Zealand, with a
philosophy of children learning alongside their parents.
Despite a decline in playcentre enrolments, he said funding
per enrolment had continued to increase, and the ministry was
supporting the New Zealand Playcentre Federation to work
through the issues they had raised.
The Government was investing more than ever on early
childhood education, he said.
Spending had almost doubled from $860 million in 2007-08 to
$1.5 billion in 2013-14.
''More children are participating and the number of hours
they are attending is going up, too.''
Parents had a choice as to the type of service their children
''These days parents often want an early childhood education
option so that they can work or study,'' he said.