Wakefield Regional Council to create more ECEC services with school partnership
In a move designed to bring more childcare services to the region, Wakefield Regional Council, servicing the Yorke and Mid North region of South Australia, has backed plans for a centre in Snowtown Primary School with $15,000 funding.
The decision follows a region wide study undertaken in 2018 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 Snowtown Primary School’s own survey on user needs.
As a result, the Council this week announced that they would fund the plan for LDC and OSHC co-using the School’s pre-school facilities; creating the town’s only central childcare facility. The $15,000 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 to cater for infants.
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.
The Council had identified the lack of childcare as a possible barrier to population growth, Mayor Reid said, with the study showing that some people were not able to settle in the region due to the gap, which he said also affects enrolment numbers in local schools.
Mayor Reid said that in addition to creating employment opportunities in the region, and relieving the pressure on nearby services, the expansion to include OSHC and LDC would reduce the 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 applying to be an approved provider, receiving administrative and policy support from Balaklava Community Children’s Centre in the interim.
School Board member and local parent 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.