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Tocumwal Preschool warns of rising fees

Tocumwal Preschool is warning its fees will go ‘‘through the roof’’ if the NSW Government freezes funding.

December 14, 2012 4:10am

Preschool director Jessica Williams said the state announced the budget measures in the last week, but the problem has been ongoing.

‘‘We are essentially in another funding freeze. This is the second in 23 years with the previous one lasting 20 years,’’ she said.

‘‘If we don’t get funding from the government for preschool fees and for wages, it’s not viable. We won’t stay alive.’’

Ms Williams believes Finley’s Biralee Preschool and the Jerilderie Preschool would feel the same effects, together with preschools across the state.

Victoria’s well-funded preschools compound the problem for NSW organisations, she added.

Ms Williams said preschools over the border charge just $2 per child per day compared to her $18.

‘‘How can we compete? We can’t,’’ she said.

‘‘Without help our fees are going to go through the roof.’’

The director believes some NSW preschools could charge as much as $55 under the freeze.

Ms Williams said it was also difficult to attract early childhood teachers with a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) as they are offered more money to work as primary school teachers.

‘‘The pay difference is between $14,000 and $20,000 a year,’’ she said.

‘‘They all want to go into primary schools.’’

She said studies show preschool was the most important time in a child’s life for their development.

‘‘Brain research has shown that children learn more in the first five years than at any other time in their life,’’ she said.

‘‘This is why preschool education is so important, it sets up the architecture in the brain and enables later learning.

‘‘If we know that fact, why aren’t we funding it?

“We are calling on the NSW State Government to invest another $500 million in early education and care to ensure that every child in NSW can access preschool for $15 a day.

‘‘Why should an Australian child miss out on this important part of their education just because they were born in NSW?’’

Ms Williams said in most other states and territories preschool education was free, or less than $10 per day.

The 2011 Productivity Commission report on children’s services noted that NSW has the highest median weekly cost of preschool per child in Australia and the lowest participation rates.

Ms Williams has joined other NSW preschools in a push for more funding, and asked locals to write to NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell to highlight their concerns.

NSW preschools are currently running a campaign headed by Albury preschool director, Gabrielle Connell to attract some government attention to the early childhood sector.

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