West Wimmera Shire Council moves forward with childcare investigation

Published on 13 January 2022

childcare stock photo

West Wimmera families planning on using a new childcare service at Edenhope can soon register their interest.

Following an extensive investigation period, Council now hopes to open a childcare service in Edenhope by April.

Council set aside money in the 2020-21 budget to investigate childcare needs in the shire.

Following an initial report by Rachel Robinson from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Council engaged Community Child Care to examine the feasibility of establishing a pilot childcare program in Edenhope.

Community Child Care worked closely with Council staff and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute to complete the preliminary elements of the study.

At a special forum in December, councillors agreed to proceed to the next stage of the feasibility investigation, which would also be led by Community Child Care.

This final stage will include calling for expressions of interest of families wishing to fill places in the proposed service to confirm current demand for the service.

This stage will also include applying for necessary regulatory approvals, seeking access to the Federal Government’s childcare assistance scheme, and investigating any other grants that might be available to assist with both recurrent and establishment costs.

Subject to confirmation of demand and providing all approvals have been met, Council will start the pilot service in Edenhope from 26 April, 2022, which is the start of term two.

The pilot program will operate four days a week – Monday to Thursday.

Council Chief Executive David Bezuidenhout said Council would formally call for expressions of interest in January for filling places at the service.

“In doing so, families will be asked to nominate specific days they wish to enrol their children for childcare,” he said.

“For three and four-year-old children, the childcare will supplement their existing two days per week enrolment in the kindergarten program.”

Mr Bezuidenhout said existing kindergarten enrolments would not be affected by adding the childcare component.

“Families can simply opt to add up to two days of childcare at the Edenhope Early Learning Centre,” he said.

“For children aged up to two years, enrolments will be available for up to four days a week.”

Families will be notified of the opening of the expressions of interest process via newspaper advertisements, various social media outlets, emails, and notifications to key employer organisations.

More information of proposed hours of operation and other necessary details will be available at that time.

“Based on initial research, Council expects the proposed pilot project will be proven to be feasible through these important next steps,” Mr Bezuidenhout said.

“This will allow Council to then formally approve the pilot and allow us to finalise staffing and other necessary details to start this exciting initiative.”

Mr Bezuidenhout said while this pilot project was likely to meet Edenhope families’ childcare needs, there was also need extending beyond existing provisions in Kaniva and elsewhere within the shire.

“Council will continue to monitor these needs and investigate options for expanding provisions in the future,” he said.

For further information contact Vin McKay, Interim Manager Community Development and Tourism, 0438 010 563.


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