West Wimmera Shire Council endorses plan for new ECEC service in Edenhope
West Wimmera Shire Council has officially endorsed a plan to establish a new early childhood education and care (ECEC) service in Edenhope, with Council Chief Executive David Bezuidenhout being transparent in noting that the service can only open when approved by the regulatory authority and when suitable numbers of qualified staff are available.
The Council has been working with parents in Edenhope on a new pilot program for ECEC provision in the town, and although councillors have approached authorised officers to apply for state and federal government approvals and posted job advertisements appearing online and on social media the staffing and approval process may take longer than first anticipated.
Mr Bezuidenhout said the hope was to open the service on April 26, the start of the second Victorian school term, but that “there are no guarantees”.
Last month, the Council called for families intending to use the service to register their expressions of interest. More families have expressed a need for the service than there are places available for children under the age of three, while for children three years and over, there look to be sufficient places to meet demand.
The Council will now establish a waiting list for children who cannot fit in the first round of offers. Currently ECEC provision in Edenhope is serviced by a family-day-care provider, who operates a service out of an Edenhope kindergarten building.
Mr Bezuidenhout said the council was in discussion with the provider about the future of the program.
“We have given a guarantee that children in family day care will have first access to childcare, if that service doesn’t continue,” he said.
“Also, if there are delays in starting the new service, we will facilitate the continuation of family day care.”
At a recent council meeting, councillors also discussed the possibility of starting a family-day-care service at the Goroke Kindergarten that would operate three days a week to meet demand.
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