Closing a playgroup
For a variety of reasons playgroups may need to consider closing. Playgroups are encouraged to explore other options before deciding to close and to discuss the matter widely within the playgroup and consult Playgroup WA before any decision is made. The decision to close should be supported by all of the members.
Closing due to lack of numbers
The following points may help you in exploring issues before you reach a final decision:
- Playgroup WA member playgroups should contact Playgroup WA for advice and support including support around attracting new members to your group.
- Look at ways to promote the playgroup.
- If the reason for closing is about the affordability of the venue, try to negotiate a more affordable rent with the building owners or managers. Alternatively look for an alternative, more affordable venue.
- Check in with your playgroup to see if there are internal problems that are causing members to go elsewhere.
- Identify any changes that are needed.
- Consider having your group members join another playgroup with a day or session/s available at their venue. If you are a member of Playgroup WA, your Playgroup WA membership will carry over with you to the new Playgroup WA playgroup.
- Become a home playgroup and meet in each other’s homes or other places such as local parks until the numbers pick up.
Closing due to lack of volunteers for the Committee/ Organising Group:
- If your playgroup is a member of Playgroup WA, please contact us - we can help!
- Review your management process - consider a more informal style of management
- Discuss the issue with the playgroup members
- Consider the reasons why members won’t volunteer and identify things that can be changed
- Approach individual members and ask for their support.
Closing down process
Once the decision to close the playgroup has been reached you will need to think about the following tasks:
- Advise Playgroup WA, or the organisation that helped establish the playgroup if there is one, of the decision to close
- Finalise all paperwork and ensure all financial records are up-to-date
- Pay outstanding debts and close the bank account if the playgroup has one
- Advise venue owners
- Inform any other community groups with whom the playgroup has links
- Decide how to keep the long-term playgroup records and where they will be stored.
Different types of records need to be kept for different periods of time even when a playgroup closes. The following points need to be considered when storing records:
- Insurance companies may require you to keep attendance information for an extended period. Playgroup WA member playgroups need to keep their attendance records for a minimum of 20 years to ensure that children that attended playgroup have enough time as adults to consider whether they want to make a claim.
- Records need to be stored for safekeeping. For ease of storage, you could scan documents and store them electronically.
Distribution of equipment and assets
All the money, assets and equipment belong to the playgroup. They do not belong to the committee or management group. Consider the following issues:
- Fixtures to the building including light fittings, built-in heaters, fences, fixed play equipment become part of the building and cannot be taken.
- See if the equipment can be stored to enable the playgroup to start up again at a future date.
- Keep an inventory of the playgroup’s equipment and record what has been stored and where, or how it has been distributed.
- If the playgroup has toys or equipment purchased through a grant, check the conditions of the grant to confirm how they should be appropriately dispersed.
- Contact Playgroup WA for information about playgroups in need of toys and equipment.
- Try to organise a farewell event, especially if your playgroup has been operating for a long time. Whatever the reason for closing, it will help remaining members if their last memories of the playgroup are happy and positive ones.
Incorporated playgroups need to follow the playgroup’s constitution including clauses covering dissolution of the playgroup. Minutes and financial records of the playgroup for the past seven years should be kept in compliance with Section 6708 Associations Incorporation Act 2015. Equipment and funds belonging to the playgroup must be disbursed in accordance with your constitution and requirements of the Incorporations Act.
Contact the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety for advice about the formal procedures to be followed.
Checklist for playgroups
- Review reasons for closing
- Look for ways of resolving those issues if appropriate
- Consult with Playgroup WA
- Follow process for closing the playgroup
- Plan for how records will be stored
- Incorporated groups compliance with other requirements