New kindy a big relief for families

In August, these Riverstone Early Learning Centre parents and children were some of those affected when the Lumsden centre closed. The town will soon have a new child care option when a kindergarten opens soon. Photo: File

A GROUP of Northern Southland parents are breathing a sigh of relief with the news a new kindy is on its way, months after Lumsden’s only preschool closed unexpectedly.

Cara Colquhoun was one of six mums who had, since August, taken time off work, on rotation, to care for each other’s children.

She said it was a tough time for both the children and parents, but she was proud of how the community came together to help each other out.

Between them, they each took one day off a week to care for eight children after Riverstones Early Learning Centre closed in August.

The mums, from Lumsden, Mossburn and Longridge, were now able to “breath a massive sigh of relief” with the news a non-profit organisation was setting up a new kindergarten in the rural town.

“Not just for us parents but for the kids as well. I think a lot of them missed the routine of going to the same place… for a couple of them it was quite daunting.”

She felt having a kindergarten was important for the parents and the community, particularly for newcomers seeking a child care option.

“When I think about what we did as a group, I feel really proud of ourselves.

“I’m really humbled we could do it for the kids.”

The mums and children got together last week for a celebratory park trip.

Kindergartens South aimed to be licensed for about 30 children for the full year, for children over the age of two.

Kindergartens South general manager Patrick Edwards was approached by the New Zealand Educational Institute and began investigating options shortly after the closure of Riverstones.

“When you hear the plight they were in… it would have been hard for anyone to refuse help.

“The way the community came together to try and provide for those children is just incredible.”

He said that was what the kindergarten association was about: “I really believe regardless of the outcome, we had to find a way to give them a child care centre.”

The Ministry of Education had been helpful with what was required and how to achieve it quickly, he said.

A challenging step had been finding a building, and the old centre turned out to be an ideal fit.

The sustainability of a centre was pitched to the association board, including if it would break-even financially and if it would serve the community long-term, and the lease was signed for about 20 years.

Three provisional offers were made to teachers on Tuesday and the ministry was visiting the site this week; a plan for when it would open rested on that.

“The centre we are putting in place is going to gain its own identity based on community need,” Mr Edwards said.

“That’s why we’re there.”