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Childcare Centre in Charlton Faces Challenges in Providing Services

Childcare Centre in Charlton Faces Challenges in Providing Services

Publish date: 26 May 2023

Despite the completion of a new Childcare Centre, the Charlton community is still awaiting the availability of a comprehensive childcare service.
Construction on this highly anticipated new facility was completed in June 2021 and the Y-Ballarat has since provided three five-hour days of kindergarten at the Armstrong Street centre.
Responding to significant community outcry and the urgings of Council, the Y-Ballarat conducted an expression of interest period earlier this year, from mid-February to mid-March, to reassess the potential for the provision of childcare.
The initiative received an overwhelming response, with 44 expressions of interest submitted by eager families who urgently require childcare services.
To support the implementation of childcare services in the crucial early stages, the Y-Ballarat received financial backing from the Charlton Community Bank. This assistance was intended to address any potential shortcomings during the initial year of operations.
The Y-Ballarat have informed Council that they are unable to proceed with proposed plans to operate long day care in Charlton.
The Y-Ballarat has communicated several reasons that have led to their decision to postpone the introduction of day care services in Charlton and ultimately their decision on Tuesday to decline the opportunity including:
• The rollout of pre-prep across the region (due in Buloke in 2026) still has a lot of unknown potential impacts on staffing and facility arrangements;
• Unable to adequately staff their services to operate at maximum capacity. This impacts viability and reduces what can offered to families;
• Overall continuing concerns about the early childhood workforce that is impacting all providers across the state;
• The current budget modelling has shown the service would not be independently viable even after 4-years at the current participation rates; and
• The current negotiations regarding the next version of the Victorian Early Childhood Teachers Agreement (VECTEA), some of which are aimed at including all early childhood educators long day care as well as kindergarten educators and teachers.
Buloke was also not recognised in the recently announced Community Child Care Funds, as it was determined to have sufficient spaces to cater to the number of children in the district. This recognition has impacted the availability of additional resources to support the establishment of day care services. The Charlton community and Council are advocating for Charlton to be included in this funding stream.
Despite these challenges, the Buloke Shire Council remains steadfast in its commitment to actively pursue multiple options to secure a suitable provider that can fulfill the childcare needs of the Charlton community.
Council recognises the importance of accessible and high-quality childcare in attracting and retaining workers in rural areas.
Mayor Cr Alan Getley expressed his disappointment regarding the long delays which have impeded further negotiations for providing comprehensive day care services in Charlton.
“There is a pressing need for childcare services, and we know this is having a detrimental impact on our families and businesses,” he said.
“Council remains determined to find a provider that aligns with the community's expectations, contributing to the growth and development of Charlton.”