Offering their out of school hours care services to 11 primary schools throughout NSW, Sherpa Kids’ franchisees William and Sophia Wong have been recognised for their contribution to the small regional community of Uralla.
Mr and Mrs Wong became Sherpa Kids franchisees in 2014, servicing the Sydney suburb of Hurstville. Sherpa Kids is an out of school hours care service that provides before and after school and vacation care.
In mid 2016, there was an opportunity to extend their service offering to the New England Region in Tamworth NSW, so Mr and Mrs Wong expanded their business by taking over the franchise within the area.
William, Sophia and their team of educators now offer their services at three schools within the Hurstville area and eight within the Tamworth region – with more schools on the way.
With the rising costs of living, many parents are choosing to return to work in order keep up with day-to-day living expenses. For numerous working parents, out of school hours care is a necessity.
Mr and Mrs Wong’s regional services operate in schools that are isolated in terms of their geographical location and have small town populations, which means there are less children, so booking numbers are small.
“It has been challenging for numerous out of school hours care providers to sustain their operations in small towns due to low enrolment numbers. In order to promote equitable access to families residing in these small towns, we saw the need to support the local communities, explains Mr Wong.
However, the couple’s commitment to out of school hours care led to them becoming the first provider to offer their services in Uralla, where parents are receiving high quality services for their children with no out of pocket expenses.
“We chose to absorb the costs of gap fees to make it affordable for families. The portion received from Child Care Subsidy is utilised to sustain the operations. This was an opportunity for us to contribute to these communities. Rather than just treating it as a business, we welcome all families and give children the opportunity to unwind, to learn while they play and have a nutritious meal,” Mr Wong explains.
“We’ve had positive feedback from school principals, which in return is good for their school’s reputation too. In some cases, families are choosing these schools because of the quality of before and after school hours care being offered – these supplementary services that meet parents’ needs.”
Along with receiving praise from the schools in which they operate and the wider communities, Mr and Mrs Wong have been recognised for their efforts on a broader scale too. Sherpa Kids Hurstville won Hurstville City Council’s ‘New Business’ award in 2015; was a finalist in the St George Local Business Awards for the ‘Outstanding Community Services’ category in 2015, 2016 and 2017; and received the ‘Excellence in Education and Children’s Services’ award from Georges River Council in 2016. More recently, in June 2019, Mr and Mrs Wong were interviewed about their community contribution to Uralla for Australian television network Prime7, an affiliate of the Seven Network.
Committed to furthering the level of service being offered at the schools they service, Mrs Wong is currently completing her Masters Degree of Teaching at the University of Sydney, majoring in Early Childhood Education.
* This is an amended version of the Sherpa Kids article that was published in the September 2019 Primary edition of Education Matters, with corrections.
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