Network of Community Activities welcomes the $500 OOSH Vouchers investment by the NSW Government in recognition of families using out of school hours care, but holds continued concerns for the role of families in before and after school care programs on public schools.
The $500 OOSH vouchers program is appreciated by NSW families who attend Out of School Hours Care, in particular those families who attend Not-For-Profit services that make up 55% of the OOSHs in NSW.
Community-based Out of School Hours Care Services account for 83% of the providers in NSW, including parent-managed services, not-for-profits, and small local for-profit providers. Without the same ability to weather short-term loses that the large corporate providers have, these community-minded OOSHs have been hardest hit by the financial impact of COVID-19. To see the full story click here.
The voucher announcement gives little solace to the parent-managed and NFP services on public schools, which are at imminent risk of closure due to a NSW Government policy shift quietly announced in December last year. While the vouchers will provide short-term financial relief to parents using OOSH services, this announcement does nothing to soften the blow for those same parents who are being cut out of the picture by a government that prioritises corporate influence over parents and school communities. See www.saveoosh.com.au
Kate Nielsen, kindergarten parent at Epping North Public School said “$500 for after school care is great. My OOSH is operated by parents at the school, at least for now. I’d rather our fees go back into OOSHs that answer to the parents than to big chains that answer to shareholders.”
With the NSW Government making moves to coporatise OOSH on public schools, it is reasonable to ask questions of the Premier’s noble stated intention of the vouchers program, which is to “help alleviate some of the financial pressures on NSW families”. The Department of Education (School Infrastructure) has already rolled back previous offers of financial assistance to NFP put at risk by the change in public school policy, and Network is concerned that the influence of the two largest corporate providers ‘crying poor’ has seen resources diverted for the benefit of corporate provider shareholders.
For more on the future of OOSH in NSW and what you can do, click here.
Network members can expect more information about the practical implementation of the voucher program via our regular emailed communications.
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