The YMCA’s preschool based at the Bishopdale YMCA is small with high ratios of staff and a rich programme of learning and recreation which makes the most of the Y’s amazing facilities.
There has been an EXPLOSION of early learning centres (preschools) since the Government started funding this important area of work over 10 years ago. There are a proliferation of preschools in Christchurch, many of which have large numbers of children enrolled. The YMCA has been concerned about the seeming erosion of quality early learning due to the growing number of government subsidised early learning centres created for the prime objective of generating private profits. This creates a risk that the quality care and education of these very young children is not the paramount concern of deliverers – as it is for community preschools like the YMCA.
Running a preschool now is a good business proposition for any start-up or entrepreneur with the skills to deliver to the exacting requirements of the Ministry of Education. And it is hard to argue with the logic – investment in the education and development of very young children is shown to have life-long benefits related to academic ability, self confidence, and future engagement with learning. The Government’s investment also allows parents to return to work and “contribute to the economy.”
However, the shadow of this good story is that even though all parents know that not all preschools are created equal, the funding is the same regardless of the economic motivation for that preschool. Twenty years ago nearly all preschools in NZ were not-for-profit and run by a committee of parents whose focus was what was best for their children. Today many preschools are profit-driven: they are Manager owned and operated, and the profitability of the centre is central to decision making – not always in the best interest of the children.
Our Early Learning Centre is a community preschool in the true sense of the word which is not manager owned and operated, but a not-for-profit proudly investing in the next generation.