Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - FRONT PAGE - By ZOE MCMAUGH

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.

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