Waiting lists in Goulburn blow out beyond 2023, creating issues for local workforce
The Sector > Economics > Affordability & Accessibility > Waiting lists in Goulburn blow out beyond 2023, creating issues for local workforce

Waiting lists in Goulburn blow out beyond 2023, creating issues for local workforce

by Freya Lucas

October 13, 2022

Lauren Jade, a resident of Goulburn New South Wales, is at a crossroads in her career. She has two young children who she is raising with her partner, while facing cost of living pressures, rental insecurity, and a lack of early childhood education and care (ECEC) availability.


Ms Jade shared her story with local news source About Regional saying that since she completed her parental leave after the birth of her second son, she has been stuck without ECEC options, forcing her to stay home and care for both children. 


A number of young families from Sydney and Canberra relocated to the region during the pandemic, placing pressure on local service providers. Waiting lists have extended as a result, and the services themselves are facing challenges in securing staff. 


Her employer, McDonald’s Goulburn South is “desperate to have her back”, with her partner working 45 hours a week for the same employer, and with both parents having the opportunity to become managers – something they are unable to pursue without care. 


The issues began when Ms Jade withdrew her one-year-old son when she left work to have her second son. When she tried to re-enrol him and find a place for her eight-week-old baby she found herself in the position of having no care for either child.


“Everyone was full and had waiting lists and it was going to be about 18 months until I could get a spot,” she said.


“I was prepared to stay at home with both boys until the youngest was six months old, but with fuel increases, groceries and the rental market, it’s ridiculous. We really need that extra top-up of income.”


When she shared her struggle on social media, many local families responded, sharing similar challenges. While the population of the town increased quickly throughout the pandemic, services to support the swelling population did not. 


Local services were contacted by the authors of the original article, with one service leader (who chose to remain anonymous) saying she had been in ECEC for 20 years and this was the first time she had seen waiting lists. 


Goodstart Early Learning Goulburn, with 76 places, is operating at 100 per cent occupancy with 222 families on the waiting list, while fellow provider Imaginations Early Education has three centres in Goulburn, with two at capacity. The third service needs more staff to operate at full occupancy. 


Another service in the community, with 70 places, was also operating at capacity and had closed its books for 2023, saying the service is “fully booked”. 


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

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