Families struggle with fee increases

Last updated 05:00 31/05/2010

TESTING TIMES: Niki Alefosio, Darius Alefosio 1yr, Riley Alefosio 4yrs, Max Wild 3yrs, Cameron Wild 1yr, and Jane Wild at the First Five Inc creche in Porirua.

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Niki Alefosio isn't angry about government funding cuts to her children's Porirua childcare centre – she's too busy calculating how to find the extra $100 she'll need to keep sending them there.

First Five Inc, where her sons Riley, 4, and Darius, 1, spend up to 40 hours a week, is one of the many early childhood education providers looking at raising fees to cover the money it is about to lose.

Mrs Alefosio is part of the centre's co-operative management group, which has decided increasing fees was the only option. "Fundraising's not guaranteed and it certainly wouldn't be enough to cover the costs," she said.

The rise would bite deeply into the family budget.

"If we take into account other factors like rising GST, I'm looking at an extra $10 per day, per child.

"We may need to look at cutting back on family outings or savings."

She works 30 hours a week, but said part-time work might not now be viable.

"I may need to look at going to fulltime or looking at another form of childcare."

Fellow First Five parent Jane Wild also has two children at the centre and said the funding cuts were "really stink".

Her son Max, 3, receives 20 free hours of childcare but Mrs Wild pays for an extra four hours, as well as 16 hours for Cameron, 1 – who is too young to receive the government-funded 20 hours.

She was now trying to work out how the family would afford a fee increase.

"In the end it's our kids, so we'll make it work, but it will mean more compromise in other parts of our life."

Her parents already looked after Cameron three days a week and she was reluctant to ask them to take on more.

"It might mean trying to shift my hours to try to work weekends – which isn't great for family time."

The funding cuts would affect both the centres and the children who attended them, she said.

"They're [the Government] just short-changing these kids before they even go to school."

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- The Dominion Post

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