Millgrove Preschool bounces back from temp closure, but needs numbers to survive
The Sector > Provider > General News > Millgrove Preschool bounces back from temp closure, but needs numbers to survive

Millgrove Preschool bounces back from temp closure, but needs numbers to survive

by Freya Lucas

August 26, 2022

Millgrove Preschool, in the Yarra Ranges region of Victoria, will be able to reopen come 29 August, with the staffing issues which led to the temporary closure now resolved. 


Despite confirmation that Term Four of the preschool program will run as planned, a decision about the service’s viability in 2023 and beyond is yet to be made, with Yarra Ranges Kinders (YR Kinders) CEO Gaby Thomson telling local media enrolments are crucial to keeping the site open. 


“Right now is the time to enrol, so it’s critical. We’d love to be able to run the kinder ongoing, we just have to make sure that we have enough enrolments to be able to keep it open,” she told Star Mail – Upper Yarra.


“Obviously, local parents are concerned and want to be able to access the local kinder, so we are focused on making sure people are aware they need to enrol now, especially as parents were informing us that often people take their time because they don’t think there’s competition, but we need to know.”


A group of concerned parents held a meeting with Ms Thomson and two managers at YR Kinders about the future of Millgrove Preschool recently, with one parent expressing concern about the uncertainty. 


“There are a lot of parents with children who are already enrolled for next year who don’t know where their children are going to go, especially if other kinders in the area are already full, which a couple of them are,” the parent said.


While the parent felt the meeting went well, and that Ms Thomson was “very open” about the issues, concerns remained that the provider “is relying heavily on getting additional funding from the State Government which may or may not come.” 


“It seemed as though if they don’t receive funding or get more enrolments, it will close, even with an operating surplus of over $700,000.”


According to the annual reports, YR Kinders achieved an operating surplus of $735,112 in 2020-21 and a net surplus of $106,305 in 2019-20 after two years of deficits prior. 


YR Kinders operates 21 kinders, 20 in the Yarra Ranges and one in Knox, and only Warburton Preschool is classified and funded as rural. Ms Thomson commenced as CEO in January this year, and said that part of her role has been to “come in and look at where our gaps and needs are, to ensure the best and safest service for all children.”


The business operations environment during and post COVID has “caused significant under-investment in the organisation,” she continued. 


“Money is not just sitting there, it is currently being reinvested now as we go through and work out our plan for the needs of the whole of the organisation. Looking at one figure in an annual report is very different from actually going through our budget and understanding all the different needs for reinvestment, we are a registered not-for-profit.”


To access local coverage of this story please see here

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