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.

Payment of internet subsidies for families with existing internet connections

A question has arisen about when we pay the internet subsidy ($20 per month) and when we don’t for families who already have an existing phone line and internet package.

Our principle is that we don’t offer the subsidy to families who are already paying for an internet package at the time of registration for Computers in Homes.  Our programme is about helping families get an internet connection, not subsidising those who can already afford one.

This applies to families who have a fixed telephone line and wish to retain this.  The lowest cost option is to simply purchase an internet package from their existing telephone service provider and our subsidy is intended to help the cover these additional costs for 12 months. Switching to UFB might be an even better deal, but that will be explored at our next coordinator hui).

Coordinators must be satisfied that families have signed up for the internet as a result of participating in Computers in Homes.  A good benchmark is the date of registration – if they already have the internet before registering for Computers in homes, then that is a pretty good indicator that they are able to cover the costs.  But any time after registration, we can provide the subsidy (we do need a copy of their telephone account showing the internet package has been added).  Coordinators can also exercise discretion – if they feel the subsidy will make the difference to the family in terms of retaining the internet or getting into debt, they can offer the subsidy.

Bags for Good Neighbourhood

Congratulations to Computers in Homes team members who have been accepted by The Warehouse (TWL) for their “Bags for Good Neighbourhood” programme.  Most seem to have been accepted for the August 2016 to January 2017 period. We now have a poster to use for the display in each local store; this has been customised for each district and sent to coordinators as a high resolution .pdf.  Our suggestion is that Coordinators take this .pdf to their local TWL store and arrange for it be be printed on good quality paper and then displayed in time for the start of the promotion on 1 August.  To date we are aware of acceptance for the following TWL stores: Blenheim, Motueka, Nelson, Whanganui, Palmerston North, Pukekohe, Paraparaumu, Petone, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Botany and Auckland airport.

If any others have been accepted, please let us know urgently so that a customised poster can be produced and returned to you before 1 August.