A new kindergarten opening in March promises new jobs, extended hours and will take children from birth.
When the Te Puna Ako Ki Totara Puku – Whanganui East Community Early Learning Centre — opens its door in March it will be the first kindergarten in the city offering places from newborns to children up to the age of five.
Trish Taylor-Pope, general manager of the Whanganui Kindergarten Association said Waiouru had been operating similar services for a while but Whanganui East was a brand new facility which signaled other "firsts" for the association.
The early learning centre is on the same grounds as Whanganui East School and was a trend central government was keen to see develop. And it was also a unit opening to cater more specifically for the needs of families in the suburb.
A sea change for early childhood education in Whanganui, as well as enrolling children from birth, the new centre will operate all year round, opening from 7.30am-5.30pm Monday to Friday.
Historically, kindergartens operated during the school year, adopting the same terms as primary schools, and teaching children from aged two and-a-half until they were ready for primary school at age five.
Catering for the extended age group has, until now, been the domain of privately-owned day care centres.
With longer operating hours and extended roles, the association needs seven qualified staff to work in the unit, and six of them will be full-time appointments. The seventh position is for a 12 month contract period.
Ms Taylor-Pope said they would not have any problem filling the positions as there was a significant number of qualified teachers in Whanganui.
The Whanganui East centre will have a roll of 45 with space for 15 children under two years old.
She said the new centre was set to open on Monday, March 19 with a community open day held before then to give the public, and especially parents, a chance to see what the centre is offering.
The association already has a kindergarten in the suburb, in Nile Street, offering six hours a day free education but run on normal kindergarten lines.
"The Wanganui East centre is a totally new venture aimed at a different market altogether. We were aware of a need for this sort of service in the suburb with a lot of working parents living in the area."
And she said the new learning centre did not signal a change across all the association's kindergartens but again was a direction government was keen to see associations around the country take.
"This is about need for a particular area and it will be part of what will be a community hub in the suburb," she said.
"This is exciting times for the kindergarten. It means the new staff can walk in there and create their own structure and environment."