Creche pins hopes on Santa wishes

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 08/12/2012
Yadana Saw
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
SAVE OUR CRECHE: Yadana Saw and daughter Yaya Alley, 2, prepare to sent a message to Santa.

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After more than 30 years, Wellington's community-run Crossways Community Creche is facing closure.

Children at the Mt Victoria creche, which has been temporarily based in Newtown, attached wishes to balloons for Santa yesterday, during what may be the co-operative's final Christmas party, asking that the centre stay open.

Its temporary lease has run out and it cannot afford to renovate the new property it has bought, so closure now appears imminent as Crossways becomes the latest Wellington early childhood centre to face pressure from big chains providing childcare.

Chairwoman Yadana Saw said the creche had managed to raise money for a deposit to buy a new house in Mt Victoria.

However, a lack of government funding and difficulty in accessing grants meant it was unable to raise the money needed to renovate the premises to an acceptable standard.

It has so far raised only $30,000 towards the $100,000 renovation bill.

"It's just been really hard, there's not a lot of money out there to donate to a creche . . . Small, non-profit centres simply cannot afford to buy and renovate suitable sites."

The centre had a roll of 45 children and a waiting list, but with the prospect of no home, the creche had a February 1 deadline to raise the money, otherwise it would have to close, she said.

"We'll be looking at putting the place on the market . . . Here's hoping Santa grants us our present."

The closure would be a loss for the Mt Victoria community, where many families had connections to Crossways, Ms Saw said. She attended the creche as a child, and now daughter Yaya Alley, 2, also attends.

"It's really important to have places that people have a long connection and history with."

Crossways is the latest community-based childcare centre to fall on tough times this year.

The Aubert Childcare Centre, in Island Bay, closed after it was unable to find new premises, and the Wellington Community Child Care Association - which supported local centres and had its own centre - went into liquidation.

Other community-based creches have also faced declining rolls, putting the squeeze on resources.

Aro Valley Preschool senior teacher Bev Mead said the centre's three teachers had all faced cuts to their hours as they struggled to stay afloat. "We are just breaking even."

However, Greta Point Childcare Centre and Capital Kids Co-operative Childcare centre both said they had seen some improvement, partly because they were picking up enrolments when other centres closed.

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- The Dominion Post

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