Pre-schoolers from Richmond Hill in front of a wall with plates they made to signify children with pre-school places (in white)
Pre-schoolers from Richmond Hill in front of a wall with plates they made to signify children with pre-school places (in white)

Pre-school funding issue comes to a head

By JENNIE DELL

LINDA ASHBY, of Richmond Hill, recently moved to the North Coast from Victoria, where she had been paying $6 a day for quality pre-school education for her first child.

Here in New South Wales, she is now paying $22 a day ? and still takes part in fund-raising activities for the Richmond Hill Community Pre-School, where her second son, James, 3, attends two days a week.

"It's the inequality that strikes me," Linda said as she joined other parents at a pre-school funding protest at Richmond Hill yesterday.

"It costs our family nearly $500 a term ? two thousand dollars a year.

"And the parents all do an amazing amount of fund-raising for the pre-school; not for luxuries, but for basic materials like craft supplies.

"The fees are so high that some families simply can't afford to send their children to pre-school."

Statewide protest rallies, urging the NSW State Government to make pre-school education more affordable, are planned for Friday, with many pre-schools taking part across the North Coast.

Children in NSW have the lowest participation rate in pre-school programs of all States in Australia ? 60 per cent compared with more than 90 per cent in other States.

Extra funding is needed to keep pace with inflation, cover wage rises, insurance costs and to comply with children's service and occupational health and safety regulations.

The Northern Star has been told of local pre-schools which desperately need renovations and repairs but due to lack of funding, have not been able to carry out the work.



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