Kids may miss out
By MEL MARTIN
SENDING her son to preschool two days a week last year cost Katrina O'Connell the same as sending him to a Catholic school five days a week this year.
And she finds that unbelievable.
"The benefit of going to preschool is huge in helping children be ready for school, it's something you want to give your children," Mrs O'Connell said.
"But if you don't have much money, and many people in Coffs Harbour don't have much money, it's one of the things you might cut costs on.
"Then your children will miss out, it's a huge disadvantage."
So Mrs O'Connell didn't hesitate in joining families from across the Coffs Coast in a statewide Protest Play Day in which 300 preschools took part, with everyone wearing red to reflect the financial crisis of the community-based preschool system.
"I went to try to make the public aware of the lack of funding for preschools," Mrs O'Connell said.
"Getting together has a lot more impact, and it was a statewide protest, it wasn't just our little group, so I hope it will make a difference."
The president of the Parent Body Management Committee of Brayside Community Preschool, Donna Dalton, was also there, handing out petitions and letters.
"More than a third of preschools will be submitting a deficit in budget," she said.
"That means they're dipping into those savings and once those savings are gone, what are they supposed to do?
"It's been going on for some time, but it's getting worse, more preschools than ever before are looking to close.
"This day was another thing helping us to step up our campaign."
Petitions from around the state will be posted to the NSW Government, sending a united message of the need for swift action.
"A lot of people who turned up had not realised how dire the situation is," Valla Community Preschool director Phillipa Maher said after the Valla event.
"Once they did they were really keen to fill out the petition.
"We've raised the community awareness, and we've certainly got the community behind us. That's very positive because the more people are aware of the issues, the quicker changes are likely to occur."