Why This Clovelly Mum Keeps Her Kids In Early Education Despite the Pandemic

A few kids attending the Clovelly Child Care Centre on Arden Street are moving up the preschool group for this latest school term. However, a drop in preschool enrolments in New South Wales have had government officials concerned as parents shift to a work-from-home set up amidst the pandemic.

Clovelly mum Odette Grabinski is one of the thousands of parents who have transitioned to working from home but she’s still sending her young children to the Clovelly Child Care Centre to prepare them for actual schooling.

Ms Grabinski has a 3-year-old son in the preschool group and a younger child in the early education program. She believes that enlisting her kids at the centre will help with their social development and stabilise a structure that will build their confidence.

Besides the learning and the child-minding, a preschool or childcare environment will give her kids a new social setting where they could develop life skills. 

The centre receives support from the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission, which helps out children of unemployed adults, people with a disability or chronic illness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, migrants and refugees and financially disadvantaged parents. 

Clovelly Child Care Centre also honors the free preschool grant extended to families with children attending a community preschool, which was launched at the height of the pandemic crisis in April 2020. 

The NSW Government has set aside $120 million to fund the free preschool program, which has been extended until the end of 2021.  

“This is a $120 million investment in our future, which will remove a layer of financial pressure for many families during this uncertain time. It will also help support more than 7,400 early childhood educators and teachers in their vital roles,” Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said. “This could save families more than $2000 per-year per-child and will ease the cost of living pressures and help balance work and family life.” 

Photo Credit: Clovelly Child Care Centre

However, attendance in early education facilities has dwindled in 2020, especially between March to June. The first school term for 2021 also saw a two percent drop in enrolment compared to last year, completely reversing the trend that usually sees preschool enrolments increasing.  

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said that it’s understandable for families to consider homeschooling during this uncertain period but she also reminded parents of the proven benefits of early education.  

Apart from developing social and communication skills, children attending these centres can be properly monitored and referred to speech pathologists and occupational therapists. The children also gain access to health screenings from NSW Health.