The new and revamped Ikusasalethu Educare centre was relaunched in Mfuleni on Friday, thanks to the efforts of the Starting Chance organisation.The school which has more than 30 children in its care was a beneficiary of a ‘shack-to-chic’ makeover by the organisation. Starting Chance is an NPO focused on early childhood educational development in the impoverished areas of Cape Town. The new facility now boasts a multi-purpose hall, four classrooms and an outdoor area for sand and water play.According to the founder, Ian Corbett, many female entrepreneurs in the educare sector operated under a threat of closure due to the costs of meeting stringent registration requirements. “In the current economic climate, unemployed parents are struggling to pay school fees. As a result, principals of smaller educares like this one battle to generate enough income to pay and retain their hard working staff and invest in upgrading their facilities.”By assisting these women in registering for subsidies from the Department of Social Development, Starting Chance helps make their businesses more sustainable, while at the same time uplifting the quality of the learning environment.“Our experience on this project has shown that educares like Ikusasalethu are ideal to extend the benefit of our investment further into the community. Partnering with local builders and tradesmen means we can support and empower local businesses as part of our procurement strategy.” Ikusasalethu Founder Princess Mapalala said that she was grateful for the makeover as it would make their jobs easier.She started the school in 2000, taking care of up to 70 children each year. “The renovations have been great...now we have two classes, enough toilets, a kitchen and a sleeping area for the children. It will be now easier to take care of them and the place looks newer,” she said. Starting Chance has expanded its team of fieldworkers in 2017 to provide regular in-service training and development to many more early childhood teachers. “The principals attending the opening indicated that the integrated approach Starting Chance is taking is producing positive results – parents of Grade R children moving on to the next stage of their educational journey did well in their interviews.” Said Corbett. Margaret Fraser, a Trustee of the HomeChoice Development Trust that sponsors Starting Chance said: “We hope that more principals will be able to say ‘It’s a dream come true’ in 2017,” she said. Starting Chance is currently finalising plans for more shack-to-Chic in 2017.