Gold Coast service to reopen three months after being forced to close from flooding

Gold Coast service to reopen three months after being forced to close from flooding

by Freya Lucas

May 30, 2022

Pandas Childcare, an early childhood service on Queensland’s Gold Coast will re-open today, following a three month closure after flooding in February. While the leaders and educators of the service are excited about getting back to work, they are concerned that some families may not return.


Director Elle Overton spoke with the ABC about the challenges the service has faced. 


“Everything went…all the kids’ toys, resources, outdoor equipment, laptops…everything was floating,” she began, describing the scenes which confronted her once it was safe to enter the building after the floods. 


Ms Overton has worked at the centre since 2007 and said it last flooded in 2017. “It feels like I’ve been through every flood and every storm, this was the worst,” she said. 


Prior to the service closing 130 families were accessing care, however many of them had to be directed to other providers while the service was closed, and Ms Overton isn’t sure how many will be returning. 


“Unfortunately, the reality is they do go, and they don’t all come back. We are kind of starting again … which is sad.”


Early 2022 was an optimistic time for the service which was having its “best year yet” in terms of enrolments, and was at full capacity.


Early childhood teacher Yvonne Franklin is one of the 16 employees at Pandas Child Care who are keen to get back to work today. All staff have been retained throughout the closure, and have kept themselves busy completing professional development or supporting with the clean up efforts. 


“I’m really excited,” she said. “It’ll be emotional…I think I’ll probably cry when I see some of the children.”


She said the downtime has been tough, but there has been incredible support from the community. 


“I’ve bumped into quite a few families,” she said. “When we see the children down at the shops, they’re all giving us cuddles and are happy to see us.”


To access the original coverage of this story, please see here