Binalong Preschool thrown a lifeline

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PRESCHOOLS: There are concerns for the future of Binalong Mobile Preschool and other small units like it as funding continues to tighten across the state.

Binalong mother Heidi Grange said recent cuts to funding in the early childhood education sector put the future of the Binalong Preschool in doubt, with many small NSW preschools facing the prospect of being forced to shut their doors in 2016.

She said government subsidies for most three-year-olds have been stripped in the new model, putting greater focus on four-year-olds.

The move has dealt a financial blow to the most vulnerable preschools in the system, which now have to make up the financial difference themselves through fundraising activities or raising fees.

The funding cut means Borrowa Preschool is now unable to support the Binalong unit under its licence.

Yass Early Childcare Centre Association (YECCA) has agreed to take on the Binalong unit for the next three years.

YECCA director Fiona Nolan told Scoop Binalong’s preschool had been operating for more than 30 years and until recently, came under the Borrowa licence.

“It’s an outreach school operating two days per week.” It has 13 children enrolled for next year in the 2-5-year-old age group.

She said while YECCA would feel the funding cuts too, smaller outreach centres who don’t have a lot of four-year-olds would feel it most.

“We knew about changes in the funding model last year, where they’ve cut funding for three-year-olds across all NSW preschools…  but in little places like Binalong, they don’t have enough four-year-olds to take the places of their three-year-olds, so it’s a flawed model to begin with.”

“Borrowa was unable to continue supporting it and so we’ve thrown them a life line, but it’s a bit risky for us too but we decided to give them a shot.

“It’s risky for us because we are also facing lower funding, as all preschools across the state are.”

“It’s just sad we have to now look at everything from a viability perspective. But for the next three years we’ve locked into their mobile contract and they’ll be funded.”

The additional responsibility will not be completely covered by funding grants.

“The funding received doesn’t cover the cost of running the preschool.

“We will need to increase fundraising because a lot of their equipment belongs to Borrowa and they will need it back for themselves.”

Mrs Grange said covering the shortfall and keeping the preschool afloat would be challenging for the Binalong families involved.

“But although it going to be a challenge, I have no doubt that the community will get behind us to keep this service in our town.

“It’s one of the advantages of belonging to a small community, and in the past the town has been able to raise considerable funds for individuals and causes in need.”

Murrumbateman Early Childhood Centre Association (MECCA) director Christine Armstead said the cuts wouldn’t be too detrimental for them because they would qualify for a “transition” fund with no other preschool service available within a 10km radius.

“I don’t think we’ll find it too detrimental at this stage. Some services are eligible for this transition funding,” she told Scoop. The new eligibility criteria was announced just this week.

“Without that, it would have caused us to be a bit more creative about how we manage things financially! I don’t think it would’ve put us in jeopardy though.”

“It’s not a good situation for smaller centres though.”

She hoped Binalong might be eligible for the transition funding too.

Goulburn MP Pru Goward did not wish to comment, her office saying it was an operational change that had been dealt with within the industry.

Mrs Grange said Binalong’s first major fundraiser is a sheep drive next Tuesday at Cootamundra Sale Yards.

“Anyone who would like to donate to the drive is urged to contact Madaline Brayshaw on 0427 688 803 by Monday.”

The Binalong Preschool operates Wednesdays and Thursdays during school terms and from 2016, will be operating an additional half an hour per day from 9am to 3pm.

It is located at the CWA Hall in Fitzroy Street.

Parents who would like to enrol their children or to find out more information can contact the preschool during operating hours on 6227 4247 or 0428 853 113 (outside operational hours), email or just pop in and chat to staff.

Top: Maddie Duffy, Tayla Brayshaw, Immy Grange, Jaiden Ings Middle: Shirley Rodgers (teacher), Mahlia Kruger, Teresa Campbell (teacher), Sophie McColl, Kyah Turton, Bailey Blewett Front: Zavier Brayshaw, Lachlan Ings, Audrey Grange, Archie Regan, Elouise Giles

Top: Maddie Duffy, Tayla Brayshaw, Immy Grange, Jaiden Ings
Middle: Shirley Rodgers (teacher), Mahlia Kruger, Teresa Campbell (teacher), Sophie McColl, Kyah Turton, Bailey Blewett
Front: Zavier Brayshaw, Lachlan Ings, Audrey Grange, Archie Regan, Elouise Giles


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