NEW CARE CENTRE
The local childcare shortage will be eased with the newly established Deniliquin Early Learning Centre expected to begin operating within the next few months.
The centre will be managed by Michelle and Heidi McGrath — the mother and daughter team which established Finley Early Learning Centre in 2016.
Deniliquin Early Learning Centre will move into the building previously operated by Kids Choice until its sudden closure on June 15.
The closure left the families of 25 children without suitable childcare alternatives, with all other local centres having little to no places available.
Heidi said this shortage which inspired herself and her mother to look at expanding their service.
It was a similar shortage which encouraged them to open Finley Early Learning Centre two years ago.
‘‘I had moved home (to Finley) from Queensland to teach primary school, but when I had a little boy there was very limited childcare available and I wasn’t able to return to work,’’ Heidi said.
‘‘So we started Finley Early Learning Centre.
‘‘Mum and I both have a passion to ensure all children have access to early childhood education and so the Kids Choice closure became an opportunity for us to expand.
‘‘There is a high demand for childcare in Deniliquin, so we wanted to help.
‘‘We’re looking forward to engaging in the community and exploring the range of services that are required.’’
Services provided at the new Deniliquin centre will replicate what is offered in Finley, which includes the provision of morning and afternoon tea and nappies. Families only need to pack a lunch for their children.
The centre will open 50 weeks of the year, from Monday to Friday and from 7am to 5.30pm to support the diversity of employment needs in the community.
‘‘We pride ourselves on obtaining passionate and highly qualified local educators, offering a preschool program and access to an early childhood teacher at all times,’’ Michelle said.
‘‘Our educators will provide specialised programs based on the Early Years Learning Framework including a specialised preschool program, aimed at preparing the children for school and beyond.
‘‘We are very conscious of making sure children are stimulated and challenged, and above all that they feel loved and secure within our centre.’’
Heidi and Michelle will each share their time between the Deniliquin and Finley centres, and are now looking to recruit educators with a Certificate III in early childhood education or higher to staff the facility.
The number of employees will directly reflect the number of children cared for at the centre.
Enrolments are being taken now, and Heidi said there had already been more than 40 inquiries by noon yesterday.
The last step before opening the centre is to receive service approval from the NSW Department of Education, which Heidi said can take up to 90 days.
She said in the meantime, some cosmetic improvements to both the indoor and outdoor spaces at the Hardinge St centre will be undertaken.