Cash to take pres­sure off cen­tres

Harvey-Waroona Reporter - - REPORTER NEWS - David Charlesworth

A $1.65 mil­lion fund an­nounced by the State Gov­ern­ment last month aims to en­sure the sus­tain­abil­ity of re­gional child­care cen­tres which face ris­ing costs and pres­sures.

On Oc­to­ber 27, com­mu­nity ser­vices and women’s in­ter­ests Min­is­ter Si­mone McGurk an­nounced the Re­gional Com­mu­nity Child Care Devel­op­ment Fund, in­cluded in the 2017/18 State Bud­get.

Ms McGurk said the fund was crit­i­cal to ad­dress­ing some of the is­sues faced by early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion and care ser­vices in re­gional WA, in­clud­ing sus­tain­abil­ity.

“These ser­vices are es­pe­cially vi­tal if we are to en­cour­age more women to re­turn to the work­force af­ter or while rais­ing a fam­ily,” she said.

“En­sur­ing on­go­ing vi­a­bil­ity of com­mu­nity ser­vices such as child­care is es­sen­tial for the lo­cal econ­omy as well as fam­i­lies.”

Ms McGurk said the fund played a vi­tal role in en­abling care givers to par­tic­i­pate in train­ing and helped to im­prove de­vel­op­men­tal out­comes for pre-school-age chil­dren.

Har­vey Oc­ca­sional Child­care Cen­tre chair­woman Kylie West said the main pri­or­ity of the cen­tre was to en­able par­ents to go back to work.

“It also pro­vides a respite so peo­ple can at­tend to other things,” she said. Ms West said re­gional child- care cen­tres faced in­creas­ing pres­sures with ris­ing costs not be­ing met by State grants.

She said most child­care cen­tres were in favour of new re­quire­ments from the State Gov­ern­ment con­cern­ing pro­grams, re­port­ing, min­i­mum pay scales and staff ed­u­ca­tion re­quire­ments, but this meant higher op­er­at­ing costs.

“The current grant fund­ing we get hasn’t been in­creas­ing with what it costs,” she said.

“Our abil­ity to op­er­ate each year is get­ting more and more dif­fi­cult.

“We can’t keep in­creas­ing fees, pass­ing the costs onto fam­i­lies.”

Ms West said the main area cen­tres needed grants was not in events or pro­grams but for every­day run­ning costs such as staff wages.

Ms West said 70 fam­i­lies in the area re­lied on the cen­tre for day­care.

“If we can’t con­tinue to op­er­ate there aren’t other al­ter­na­tives for them,” she said.

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