Strathfield Council calls meeting about the future of 2 ECEC sites
The Sector > Economics > Affordability & Accessibility > Strathfield families rally as Council positions to potentially outsource two services

Strathfield families rally as Council positions to potentially outsource two services

by Freya Lucas

April 03, 2023
A baby is shown sitting on the grass.

A large number of concerned families in the New South Wales suburb of Strathfield are expected to attend a special meeting tomorrow evening during which Strathfield Council will discuss plans to put two not-for-profit early childhood education and care (ECEC) services out to private tender to address what the Sydney Morning Herald termed “continuing financial woes”.


The future of Strathfield One Stop Child Care Service (SOCCS) and Homebush Out-of-School Care (HOOSH) will be discussed during the meeting, with potential measures including putting the services to private tender, or closing them altogether. 


The services have operated for 25 and 35 years respectively and collectively care for more than 200 children in the socio-economically mixed suburbs of Strathfield and Homebush West, operated by parent committees. 


Current families and staff have expressed a need for a lower fee option given the diversity of economic circumstances in the area, concerned that should a private operator take the services on, they would then have access to community land and may “keep it out of public hands for decades”.


Emily Boon is a parent who uses SOCCS for care, and is also the secretary of the SOCCS parents’ committee. She is concerned about the ‘strong indications’ the Council has given, via the recommendations of council general manager Michael Mamo, that it will put the sites to tender. 


“Closing a public, community-run daycare due to the mismanagement of council funds is devastating to the community,” she told the Herald.


HOOSH leader Tina Webster, who has run the service for its 35 year history, said she was shocked to learn the Council was considering a tender process. 


Responding through a statement the Council said the meeting would be used to decide the future of several Council properties with leases due to expire in 2023.


“Council is responsible for managing the leasing and licensing of council property to ensure equity, consistency and transparency in decision-making regarding the use of its property assets into the future,” the spokesperson said, adding the council had not “tested the market for several [of its] properties in over 20 years”.


In published business papers, council staff recommend the centres be notified that a tender process had begun and be given a one-year transition period.


The papers state council would need to spend $279,000 on renewal works for HOOSH and $789,000 for SOCCS over the next ten years and suggested those costs could be borne by private providers if they took over the sites.


Decisions about the future of multiple Council properties will be made against the backdrop of “worsening results” outlined in the Council’s 2021/22 Annual Report, which forecast a $7.427 million further operating deficit in the current Long-Term Financial Plan.


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

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