Gunnedah service expands to meet demand for regional ECEC
The Sector > Practice > Long Day Care > Gunnedah service expands to meet demand for regional ECEC

Gunnedah service expands to meet demand for regional ECEC

by Freya Lucas

October 11, 2022

With rising demand for early childhood education and care (ECEC) services in regional and rural New South Wales, some providers are stepping up to expand their services, with one provider, Li’l Achievers, soon to be offering 127 places, making it one of the largest providers in the region. 


When the service opened in 2015, it was because demand for owner Brooke Patriquin’s services as a family day care (FDC) provider far outstripped supply. Originally providing care for 24 children, the service quickly expanded to its current capacity of 79 – but growth in the region is such that more rooms are opening up to meet demand. 


The expansion, Director Emma Lyons said, is very much motivated by the huge demand for care in the town. 


“We had a huge wait list for our babies and toddlers they were just the ones we couldn’t cater for,” she said.


“It was extremely hard, some of the parents you just wanted to help out but we had no spots.We can’t make spots (with the current space and staff available) so our only option was to expand.”


Two new baby rooms and one toddler room are being built, along with a new outdoor eating and play area. Each baby room caters for 12 children under two years of age, while the toddler space can accommodate 20. 


“It’s been amazing, it’s so good to see that all the families are so happy with the changes that have been made,” Ms Lyons told the local paper Namoi Valley Independent.


Staff have been recruited while construction has taken place, and are ready to ‘hit the ground running.’


The new spaces have been quickly snapped up by existing families needing extra days, and new families from the waiting list. 


Gunnedah Shire Council Mayor Jamie Chaffey welcomed the expansion, saying it was a huge boost for the town.


“It’s huge,” he said. “It means there’s a lot more men and women who are able to go out and fill those job vacancies that we desperately have in our community.”


Li’l Achievers has more plans for the service, including a nature reserve, playground, bike track and outdoor kitchen all of which are under construction. Next on the list is a before and after school care and vacation care program for older children, to allow families to have “a one-stop shop.” 


“Parents can pick their kids up and drop them off and siblings can play with each other before and after school,” Ms Lyons said. 


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

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