Mobile kindy fights to keep on rolling
The Waihao Downs Mobile Kindergarten now has a better chance of meeting revised Early Childhood regulations by the November deadline.
Being one of only two mobile kindergartens left in New Zealand, it was falling into a grey area, with no provision for it in new regulations requiring all early childhood providers to be licensed by November this year.
However, after years of the Waimate Kindergarten Association trying to clarify what was required, the Ministry of Education has listened and assigned the equivalent of a case manager.
Association general manager Terina Moodie is expecting a visit from the department representative soon to assess the kindergarten sites for any upgrades needed to meet licensing requirements.
The mobile kindergarten serves the Waihao Downs, Hakataramea, Otaio, Glenavy and Hook districts and takes children aged from newborn to five years.
Sessions are held in schools, halls and even a gun club. Outdoor equipment remains on site, while smaller items like paint are transported to each session.
There were eight mobile kindergartens throughout the country, but funding struggles have put an end to all but two.
However, the rise of dairy farming means the Waihao Downs kindy is as busy as ever, and a much-needed asset to the community, Miss Moodie says.
It has survived because of the financial support of the community it serves.
But being in such a small sub-category of Early Childhood Education, mobile kindergartens did not get a mention in revised regulations and Miss Moodie, the Hunterville Mobile Kindergarten and New Zealand Kindergartens Inc lobbied the ministry all of last year to get some guidelines.
"Finally we have been given someone to work closely with in the ministry," Miss Moodie says.
"We're keen to retain our service and do what needs to be done to do that. It's a valuable resource for the community, for new parents moving in, it's somewhere to go to meet other children and parents."