The $50 family contribution

From time to time during the 17-year history of Computers in Homes, schools have requested that we waive the requirement for families to have to pay the $50 contribution towards the cost of the programme. Historically, we have taken a firm line on this and insisted that families make this commitment for the following reasons:

  • the principle underlying the concept of a family contribution is that people value things more if they have to pay for them (the ‘skin  in the game’ principle);
  • the $50 fee was set as a nominal amount in the year 2000 and has remained unchanged ever since;
  • nationally, the family contribution comes to $75,000 each year and this income is a small but necessary part of the CIH budget;
  • families who struggle to find a spare $50 have been encouraged to make a $5 payment each week during training; schools are usually happy to accept these payments;
  • programmes like Manaiakalani that started in a decile 1a school have proven that even families in the lowest income communities can find money for technology when they see the value; Manaiakalani families typically pay $3.50 per week over 3 years to pay off a digital device for their children;
  • most families quickly see the value in CIH – they often view it as an affordable way to procure a computer;
  • families will incur other costs in joining the digital world, such as an internet connection;  if families cannot afford $50, then we do need to think carefully about whether they will be able to afford other ongoing ‘digital’ costs.

That said, there have been exceptions.  A recent one was the Kaikoura earthquake;  the fee was waived for CIH families in training at the time.  There have also been instances where schools have recognised specific situations of financial hardship and have procured other resources to cover the family fee for selected families; this is not unusual in most schools where Principals have a hardship fund to support families with camp fees or other discretionary expenses.  In some areas, external funding from local Rotary groups or businesses have been used to contribute towards the family contribution.

So our position remains the same as for the last 17 years, i.e. all participating families must pay the $50, although at the discretion of the school, assistance can be provided from other resources (within the school or externally).

We are aware that most schools accept this approach, and will not allow the computer to be taken home until the $50 payment has been made.  In exceptional cases of poverty (as assessed by the school), we have agreed from time to time to reduce the amount invoiced to the school, where efforts have been made to get a family to pay, but they have failed to do so.

CIH Half-Year Report Published (at last!)

It has been a bit of a mission, but we finally have our half-year report in print. Copies are being mailed tomorrow (Friday 21 April) to our partner organisations and other external stakeholders. Carol will be sending copies to all coordinators for your Steering Committees and other local stakeholders. If you need more copies, contact Carol. The winning cover photo was a Westport family – Denise Henley has already delivered an acknowledgement to the family before leaving on her 6-week holiday.

Now it is only two and bit months before I’ll be chasing again for copy and photos for our annual report. So how about starting now to make sure you have one or two photos in the repository that sum up your year! Please load hi-res photos with captions to the CIH Annual Report 2017 directory. PLEASE DO NOT LOAD THEM INTO YOUR OWN FOLDER AS THIS MAKES IT VERY DIFFICULT FOR VERONICA TO FIND THEM!!

Spark Jump – Changing address

A reminder to coordinators supporting Spark Jump that families are not permitted to use their Spark Jump modem like a mobile hotspot. It is a breach of their agreement with Spark Foundation if they relocate their modems without formally advising them (through us). If modems are used out of area, this will create an alert in the Spark network and we will be asked to explain why.

This situation cropped up this week when a member of one of our CIH families relocated to another area and took the Spark Jump modem with him so that he could continue to use his phone at the discounted rates.

The coordinator knew the family involved was house-bound and could not understand how this could have happened. My initial reaction was that we had mixed up our IMEI numbers somehow (sorry Kristina, I should have known better!!). The coordinator got on the phone immediately and asked the family to quote the IMEI number, which was correct. On further questioning, she admitted that her son had taken the modem to Wellington for two days earlier in the week, which is what was detected by Spark.

Spark Jump Reporting

Coordinators involved in the Spark Jump programme will notice some changes in the google sheets used for reporting. Some key changes:

Cells B1 to J1: Quick links to key Spark Jump resources and online forms
Cells B2-C2: “INSTRUCTIONS” quick link to full explanatory of all columns
Column K – child’s school; no need to record name or birth date – these columns have now been hidden
Columns N-P: shaded grey; only for Kristina’s use when allocating modems
Column R: Date Kawa of Care completed online; copies automatically got to the family as well as Spark Foundation and Kristina
Columns V – Y: Report back from families. Families should report back using the online form and we will send them a bonus $15 voucher by way of acknowledgement.
Columns AB-AE: for use when something changes, like a change of address or a modem being returned.

Spark Jump registrations now online

All families signing up to Spark Jump through one of our 20/20 local partners (including Computers in Homes families) should use the online form for their Kawa of Care.  A copy will be emailed to the family as well as to Spark Foundation and 20/20 Trust (Kristina).  We are planning to add a quick link from the Stepping UP website to make it easy for trainers and families when they are setting up their modems.

Updates for Google Sheets

Emma asked why some of the data in the CIH online registration form was not being transferred to the main google sheets, specifically the “Premises” field.  As it turns out this was a simple matter of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing. Two new fields were added to the registration form in October last year but the data transfer process was not updated.  So thanks, Emma, for raising this.

The two new fields are:

What type of housing do you live in? What type of internet connection do you have in your home?

The back-end has now been corrected and the data from both fields will now populate the main Google sheet (typically within 24 hours of the registration being received).

With respect to the Internet Connection data, these fields will be shaded yellow, as these record the family situations on joining the programme.  For families with NONE, the Internet Connection field should be updated when you confirm the type of internet connection the family wants.  You can then remove the yellow shading.  For families with an existing internet connection, you should update the following two fields and then remove the yellow shading:

CIH Payment Plan Reason for no CIH Internet connection

AP Forms must have a termination date

Commencing immediately all new AP forms completed by CIH families must have a termination date, which should be 12 months in the future, i.e. the same date as the start date, but just one year later. To date, the practice has varied with some coordinators preferring to leave the AP open-ended, so that families can catch up on any missed payments.  In one way, this makes sense, but we are facing a growing number of families who simply don’t cancel their APs and this creates a real problem when we are unable to (a) contact them to stop their APs and (b) return the overpaid funds.

We now have over 500 families who have overpaid and this is huge job trying to contact them and get them to stop their APs.  One Taranaki family holds the record for overpayments – a whopping $1700!  This family has continued to pay for more than three years after our subsidised internet connection ended.

We are going to have a blitz on contacting the families who have overpaid, starting with the 21 families who have overpaid by more than $500.  I find it hard to think of any family who wouldn’t welcome a $500 cheque for Christmas!

CIH Research Database for 2016-17

The first group of 2016-17 families for the research programme has been selected at random and entered into a new google sheet called: RESEARCH 2016-17 Computers in Homes.  Access permissions remain the same as for the 2015-16 research database.

Coordinators will receive reminders when research contacts are due; the first for 2016-17 families will be in December (3 months post graduation).  As this is based on the graduation date, some of which are future dates, this does provide a good opportunity to explain the research process to the selected families during training.

Families have been selected at random from the registration database (generated from online registrations).  So another reminder to all coordinators, all families participating in the 2016-17 Computers in Homes programme MUST complete an online registration form.  Some coordinators are choosing to do themselves after families complete a paper-based registration form, but we strongly suggest that you get families to do this themselves during the first or second week of training; this saves coordinators extra work as well as providing a practical online activity for families.

CIH Research Update

Some coordinators appear to be finding the new research approach challenging.  As reported at our last hui in Whangarei, we are monitoring progress in meeting the research target dates.  Every day after the scheduled research due date is counted as “one overdue day” until contact is made.  If no contact is made within 90 days (the date of the next scheduled contact date), the ‘overdue count’ is reset to zero and one ‘research contact missed’ recorded.  The situation as at 12 November is as follows:

Region Rank Number of Families in Research Database Overdue Days Research contacts Missed
Dunedin 1 12 0 0
Manawatu Horowhenua 1 6 0 0
Nelson Marlborough 1 6 0 0
Taranaki Central NI 1 6 0 0
Whanganui 1 16 0 0
Northland 6 9 -77 1
Tauranga 7 7 -129 0
Wairarapa 8 5 -135 1
West Coast 9 4 -137 2
East BOP 10 5 -143 0
Southland 11 4 -161 1
Wellington 12 6 -170 0
Gisborne 13 8 -172 4
Wairoa 14 7 -348 1
Auckland Manurewa-Papakura 15 5 -357 0
Auckland-Franklin 16 16 -445 9
Waikato 17 17 -458 0
Christchurch 18 14 -523 0
Porirua 19 15 -715 6
Auckland Mangere-Otara-Papatoetoe 20 24 -779 9
Far North 21 17 -840 9
  209 -5589 43

Spark Jump

Some of you may have heard about Spark Jump, a new pre-pay internet service for families with school-aged children.The service is being subsidised by the Spark Foundation and being offered through partner organisations.  The 2020 Trust is one of these partners along with other organisations that we work closely with – Greater Christchurch Schools Network (in Christchurch), Web Access Waikato (in Waikato),Nga Pumanawa e Waru (in Rotorua).

Spark Jump has some significant benefits:

  1. it is a pre-pay service, so no contracts or monthly bills;
  2. it costs $15 for a 30 GB data pack (which expires after 30 days, so must be topped up monthly)
  3. topups can be made using Skinny vouchers (available at thousands of retailers),or using a debit or credit card;
  4. it uses the 4G and 4G 700 wireless network, so no wires or UFB wait;
  5. it can be set up in 10 minutes during a CIH or Stepping UP class.

However it is not a replacement for a fixed line service (DSL or UFB) which offer ‘on account’ packages  of around 100GB. The average New Zealand household now uses around 100GB each month, so Jump Start is not intended for people who want to download movies every night!  But it is a great fit for families who can not afford our subsidised $10/week 2degrees package.

We are currently developing operational procedures and delivery models.  Once these are finalised, we will communicate details to all CIH coordinators and programme delivery partners. In the meantime, please refer any inquiries from individual families to Kristina. Our goal is to establish delivery partners in each region where we have digital literacy programmes; we will prioritise areas where there are specific inquiries/requests.  Sue West and Naseem Khan connected the first of these in Auckland last week.