On social media I often notice parents asking about the best education and care service
to meet their needs and those of their child. It gets particularly confusing when many
services call themselves; “Early Learning Service”, “Prep”, “Long Day Care”, “Childcare”,
“Daycare” and of course, “Preschool”. Then there are the many umbrellas these
services sit under including; private, local council, government, not-for-profit
organisations and those for staff employees. The one I will be sharing information
about is community based not-for profit “Preschool”.
While many organisations use the title of “preschool” there is a group of services that
form the Sutherland Shire Preschool Alliance. These services are the community based
not-for-profit preschools found in many suburbs including Caringbah, Cronulla, Bangor,
Como, Engadine, Grays Point, Gymea, Menai, Jannali, Kurnell, Miranda and Oyster Bay.
These are the traditional preschools that perhaps you went to. They are funded by the
Dept of Education and operate in-line with the NSW school calendar terms, however
many run to longer hours than those of school to meet the changing needs of their
Community based preschools are not-for-profit, so your fees go directly back into
maintaining a high standard of education, safety and care for your child. They are
managed by a group of volunteers and parents of children attending the service. This
means that parents and staff have strong, collaborative relationships that greatly
benefit the children.
To assist families in accessing the high-quality care and education offered by
community based preschools the NSW State government has implemented Start Strong
Funding. This funding is available to any child who turns 4 years old by 31 July in the
year they start community based preschool. More recently children who turn 3 years
old have also received funding, making community based preschool a very affordable
option for many. There are also options for some families to receive equity funding
that further reduces the daily cost of attending preschool.
With profits going directly back into the service preschools can work continuously
towards improving overall quality. This includes educational resources, staff, including
their training, health and safety provisions, consumables, environmental updates and
more. They are also eligible to apply for many grants for such things as major works,
purchasing of I.T. equipment, the employment of specialist and professional services
(‘artist in residence’, professionals attending parent information meetings,
environmental planners) and embedding ethical practices.
Another advantage of community based preschool that has been shown to impact a
child’s experience in early childhood education, is the reduced staff turn-over within
preschool settings. Staff at a community based preschool are generally with the children
for the entire day rather than working on rotating shifts that can be unpredictable to
young children. This continuity of care helps children develop strong relationships that
have a significant impact on their brain development and the ability to learn and
develop to their potential.
With funds going straight back into the service community based preschool can afford
higher staff to child ratios than what is required by the National Regulations that
govern all children’s care services. It is usual in a Community Based Preschool Setting to have a University qualified teacher in every room as well as in the Managerial or
Most community based preschool services cater for children from 3 years of age. The
result of this is educators planning an environment that challenges the children to
continuously develop new skills and knowledge. This includes opportunities for
children to take controlled risks, vital for them to learn about how to keep themselves
safe and follow their intuition rather than listen to others, both now and in the future.
If you would like more information on the community based preschool closest to you log
onto sutherlandshirepreschoolalliance.com.au and you can also search for individual
preschools on Facebook.
This information is provided to offer clarity on community based preschools and is not
meant as a deterrent to other services that may meet the needs of you and your family
and your child. All of the services listed within the Alliance would be pleased to hear
from anyone with any questions and provide further information to help in making the
difficult and often emotional decision on which early childhood service to choose.
Jannali Preschool Kindergarten
Sutherland Shire Preschool Alliance