By: Carmen Hall
Video: Inspiring Kids Early Learning Centre manager Lily Gouws said its roll was ”amazing” despite rolls dropping around town
Early childcare rolls have taken a nosedive in Rotorua which has forced some centres to close their doors, new figures show.
But some centres spoken to by the Rotorua Daily Post are bucking the trend and are experiencing growth.
Data from the Ministry of Education reveals there were 99 licensed early learning services in Rotorua compared to annual figures to June that show 103 in 2016 and 98 in 2015.
Its latest stats also show 3169 children enrolled at licensed early learning services in Rotorua (which did not include kohanga, some playcentres or hospital-based services) compared to 3474 in June 2015 and 3583 the year before.
Sector Enablement deputy secretary Katrina Casey said in any given area the number of centres could fluctuate over the course of a year.
“There are are a number of reasons including the establishment of new services, mergers between services, closures or decisions taken by service owners like retirement.”
Inspiring Kids Early Learning Centre manager Lily Gouws said its roll was “amazing” and had doubled since 2015 when they bought it.
Numbers had jumped from 65 to 149, she said.
Almost every day she fielded a new inquiry and the centre reached its licence for 149 children “regularly”.
“It is all through word of mouth and we are so blessed to have so many children in our school. At the beginning of the year we started a baby centre which is also full.”
Ngonotaha Early Learning Centre manager Heather Brake said its centre was full and had a licence for 60 children but it liked to keep the roll at about 57 for flexibility.
“We like to keep some spaces clear for parents who are working and may need an extra day so we can cater for that child.”
The centre celebrated eight years in June and during that time a number of other facilities had started up, she said.
BestStart deputy chief executive Fiona Hughes said its eight Rotorua-based early learning centres “have seen significantly increased enrolments in the last two years”.
“We understand there have been some closures of other early childhood centres, but we think the reason we’ve seen increasing enrolments is due to the huge effort we’ve put into strengthening the quality of our care and education in centres.”
The benefits of attending a quality early childhood centre were enormous, she said.
“Children who attend are likely to be more confident and curious about the world around them which helps them do better at school. They are quicker to settle at school, which is in itself a benefit, are more resilient in the face of difficulty and are more likely to be lifelong learners.”
Early childcare subsidises
- The Ministry subsidises all children enrolled and attending certificated and licensed early learning services.
- Rates vary depending on the type of service, the number of certificated teachers the service employs and the age of the child.
- All children over 3 years of age are funded at a higher subsidy rate under its 20 Hours ECE policy.
- For families who qualify, a childcare subsidy and an early learning payment are also available from the Ministry of Social Development for families who meet certain criteria.