Increasing childcare options

Maddox Tottman and Lloyd Carter unveiling the 2017 Every Face Has a Place puzzle pieces. FILE PHOTO.
Maddox Tottman and Lloyd Carter unveiling the 2017 Every Face Has a Place puzzle pieces. FILE PHOTO.

Snowtown Primary School is set to have a new addition in 2020 - they're adding a childcare facility.

Council conducted a region-wide study last year with Deakin University, which reinforced the gap in childcare services across the region, with particular needs identified in Snowtown for long day care (LDC) and an Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) service.

This was further supported by the School's own survey on user needs.

This week Council decided to fund the plan for LDC and OSHC co-using the School's pre-school facilities; creating the town's only central childcare facility. They will financially support the project with $15,000 in funding.

This money will assist in the start-up costs for the not-for-profit service, as well as initial payment of wages and costs relating to the set-up of a sleeping room.

Snowtown mum of three and School Board member Belinda Stringer said there was a good vibe around town about the facility and that excitement was also met with some relief for parents who had struggled fitting work around school pick-up and juggling babysitters' availability.

Ms Stringer said there would be all the clear benefits of having a service nearby, as well as those people might not realise, saying it would provide a break for fulltime carers, which was important for mental health."

"A lot of parents travel out of town for childcare, some even to Bute, so the service is well worth it to keep families and the local dollar in Snowtown," Ms Stringer said.

"We host a playgroup every week but the social benefits from childcare are just a step-up and another way of making the transition to primary school as smooth as possible."

Wakefield Mayor Rodney Reid said the move was a positive step towards providing critical services to assist parents and caregivers, cutting down on the need to travel out of the region and increasing opportunity to re-enter the workforce locally.

"As a Council we have identified the lack of childcare as a possible barrier to population growth, with the study showing that some people were not able to settle here due to the gap, which also affects enrolment numbers in local schools," Mayor Reid said.

"This is an exciting venture which will also create some employment opportunities within itself and relieve the demand pressure from nearby services, as well as reduce commute time for parents.

"The preschool site is very much ready to go," Mayor Reid said explaining that the space has recently undergone a number of upgrades to meet compliance standards.

The School is in the process of applying to be a childcare provider in its own right, and in the interim will outsource administrative and policy support from Balaklava Community Children's Centre.

Intake for LDC is expected to be in the high 20s, so the School is eager to open the Snowtown Children's Centre in 2020 and has received on-going enquiries into its readiness, indicating that momentum is certainly building.