Playcentres struggle as mums head back to work

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Playcentres and kindergartens across our region are making changes to the way they have traditionally operated, to keep up with changing social parenting trends.

Nelson Playcentre Association Executive Team Member and Liaison Officer for Stoke Playcentre, Amanda Davis, says “nationally, playcentres are in a state of flux”.

Due to financial pressures, parents across New Zealand are going back to full-time work and placing their children in day care facilities.  As a result, playcentres don’t have the same number of volunteers available to run the sessions as in previous years.

Stoke Playcentre is one of those affected, seeing their numbers reduce from around 17 families last year to only five families this year.  Amanda believes not only have the social changes affected numbers but the perception out in the community of what playcentres are about, differs from what it actually does.

Next month, the Playcentre Federation of New Zealand, will hold a meeting to discuss possible changes to it’s current structure.

“The social climate has changed a lot in New Zealand and parents are returning to work earlier and not staying at home as long as they used to.  Regionally we are trying to keep all the centres open and financially viable until possible national changes are made,” says Amanda.

Playcentre began over 70 years ago as a support service to women who were left raising children alone during the Second World War. Its original aim was to provide leisure for mothers and opportunities for the social development of pre-school aged children.

Today there are 33 Playcentre Associations throughout New Zealand which offer a learning environment for children from birth to 6 years.  A typical Playcentre session is held between 9.30am to 12.00pm. All centres are run differently and each is funded by minimal bulk funding from the government with a heavy reliance on parents to raise additional funds required to run the centres.  It is hoped the outcome of the national meeting will take the pressure off playcentre parents needing to be so involved.

Trish Casey, CEO of the Nelson Tasman Kindergarten Association, says pressures on the availability of parents at home have forced Kindergartens across the region to adjust their hours also.

“Over the last few years, all of our centres within the region have been migrating towards school hours, we are definitely following what the demand is,” says Trish.