Indigo Shire ECEC challenges resolved with NERPSA appointed as preferred provider
The North East Regional Preschool Association (NERPSA) has been named as the preferred provider of kindergarten and childcare services by the Chiltern community, Indigo Shire Council and the Victorian Department of Education, following months of advocacy for the continuation of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services in Chiltern.
Challenges for the community began when the Child Care Subsidy was introduced in 2018 and budget based funding (BBF) discontinued, leaving previous service providers unable to sustain losses while juggling sporadic attendance at some services.
Based out of Wangaratta, NERPSA currently runs 12 kindergartens across North East Victoria, with manager Leigh Chadban saying she was looking forward to working with the Chiltern community to expand NERPSA’s services to include childcare.
“We are going through the process of securing the appropriate approvals from the State and Federal Governments to provide kindergarten and childcare in Chiltern,” Ms Chadban said.
“We hope to have a commencement date to announce soon, and in the meantime we will be working with the current provider to plan for a smooth transition for families.”
The outcome was welcomed by Indigo Shire Mayor Jenny O’Connor who said the provision of consistent high quality childcare is of huge importance to the community, and to the future of Chiltern as a growing hub for families.
Council issued an Expression of Interest (EOI) for a new provider and partnered with the State Department of Education and Training to reach out to potential services as well as securing Federal Government support to investigate the financial model for the service provision in Chiltern.
Three EOIs were received from potential providers with Council determining NERPSA was the organisation best equipped to work with the Chiltern community into the future.
Ms O’Connor thanked Albury Wodonga Community College for continuing to deliver services since its decision to withdraw and for its ongoing commitment to transitioning the services.
NERPSA’s appointment was endorsed by the Department of Education and Training with Ovens Murray Executive Director Bernie Boulton saying the provider comes with strong experience working in partnership with rural communities to deliver quality education and services for children and families.
“With this announcement, Chiltern will continue to be a great hub for education with the ongoing childcare and kindergarten programs feeding into the town’s two primary schools,” Mr Boulton added.