Lemons turn to lemonade for enterprising committee in Augusta, WA
A group of committed parents, local business owners and early childhood educators in Augusta, a town in south-west Western Australia, have made the best of a challenging situation, creating a vacation care service for children from four to 12 years of age using a $10,000 Strengthening Rural Communities grant from the Foundation for Rural Regional Renewal (FRRR).
40 km from the nearest town of Margaret River, residents in Augusta were challenged when the only early childhood service in town closed, leaving families with no option but to travel. This lack of availability had a flow on effect to employment, limiting opportunities to access work, and for employers’ to fill staff vacancies.
While Augusta has previously been a town with a high number of retirees, numerous young families have returned to Augusta where they grew up, or have taken a sea-change post-COVID, meaning early childhood and outside school hours care services are more in demand than ever.
The cohort of parents, educators and business owners had established an incorporated association to open a community-run, not-for-profit centre with 24 places to meet the urgent need for care. They successfully navigated the requirements and approvals of the Education Care Regulatory Unit and the Federal Government Childcare Subsidy program however, increased building costs compounded by development approval delays have left the service in a state of flux.
Despite the challenges, FRRR worked with the cohort to redirect the grant money, initially provided to purchase resources to outfit the new centre, helping the group to progress a variation to the original project to adapt to their changing circumstances.
The group instead launched a vacation care service, filling a gap in the community’s needs. Educational resources that are of a higher quality and more durable than the donated and second-hand older toys and cheaper equipment that had previously been used were purchased with the grant.
“These resources will last longer and extend the children’s imagination, and have added real value to the program and been much loved by the children. They will also be able to be used by the new childcare centre when it eventually does open,” an FRRR spokesperson explained.
“We are very grateful for the donors and team at FRRR for enabling our project to be delivered with better resources, and it has made a real difference to the kids, working families and community members in our little town,” said Kylie Lucas, Treasurer of the Augusta and Districts Childcare Centre.
“The committee appreciated the FRRR’s flexible and supportive approach.”
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