Discerning parents and principals understand that value for money in outside school hours care is very different from price, says Darren Stevenson, Managing Director of Extend After School Care.
A highly priced service does not necessarily offer the best opportunities for children, he says, but there is always a cost to delivering high quality service.
Mr Stevenson said the largest investment and cost for quality after school hours care is in ensuring the quality of its educators.
“The most important thing in any service is the quality of your staff,” he said. “Just as a great school is reliant on its teachers and principal, so too in outside school hours care, we rely on committed and engaged educators.”
After school hours care is heavily regulated by law and staff ratios and qualifications are just part of a raft of issues that must be addressed.
However, a good provider will go beyond what is legally required, Mr Stevenson said.
“We feel it’s more than just ticking boxes to say for example that we have the right ratio of staff – we need to make sure we have the right people doing the right activities in the interests of the children and families who utilise our service.
“It’s not just about having numbers. It’s about adding value, looking at the programming, at the needs of the children, those kinds of issues.”
The quality of a service’s resources should also be considered, Mr Stevenson said, with an adequate supply of arts materials, construction and sports equipment and ample opportunities for children to play and create things, as well as nutritious and well-prepared snacks and food.
While parents understand price does not always translate to quality, they are also aware that low-cost services may struggle to provide what the children need, Mr Stevenson said.
“Discerning parents won’t tolerate those services or providers that cut costs with their children to charge a low price. They’re mindful of the cost, but they’re much more conscious of the value for money they’re receiving in the program.”