Cash to take pressure off centres
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.