Cumberland City Council decide to keep ECEC centres “in house” after extensive review
New South Wales-based Cumberland City Council has confirmed that it will keep the operation of its portfolio of child care centres “in house” after an extensive review was conducted by a working group tasked with exploring how to mitigate ballooning costs and a more competitive operating environment.
“We’ve had to take a long, hard look at enrolment numbers, costs of staff and facilities and how to get the best value for money for both ratepayers and families,” Mayor Steve Christou said.
Mayor Christou said the working group had ‘run the numbers’ and recommended keeping the operation of the centres in Council’s control, with some adjustment to the operating model to make sure these services are financially viable in the longer term.
With staff costs and overheads, it was difficult to compete with private providers.”
Currently, the Council-owned and run long day care centres provide care for 660 children and are heavily subsidised by ratepayers – up to $1.9 million a year, something the Mayor described as both expensive and not sustainable.
The new model will revitalise nine child care centres by consolidating some services and balancing enrolments across different age groups to implement the best operating model possible.
While there will be an overall reduction in places for children under the age of three years, it will be phased in over two years to allow the children to transition into the older groups, meaning those families who currently access this care will not be left without the care they need for children in this age group.
“We’ve heard and listened to our community. We have achieved a positive outcome for those who wanted the operation of this service to remain under our control but similarly those who have expressed concern about how heavily this service was being subsidised by all ratepayers have been heard,” the Mayor said.
“When it comes to quality care for children, it’s an important and sensitive topic that’s close to the hearts of many families who rely on our services,” he added, noting that the council believes this solution is one which is fair and equitable and balances the needs of families and the community.
Further information about the Council’s early childhood services is available here.