Council recommits to providing Children’s Services following review

Bega Valley Shire Councillors today unanimously agreed that Council continue to provide Children’s Services following an independent review which found a large unmet need for childcare services in the Bega Valley Shire.

Council’s Director of Community, Environment and Planning, Emily Harrison said early childhood education and care is a vital input to the economy of the Bega Valley.

“Council provides two centre-based early childhood education services including Bandara in Bega and Eden Early Learning Centre, as well as the Sapphire Mobile Preschool which operates in Bemboka and Candelo,” Ms Harrison said.

“They are attended by a diverse range of children including those from a range of family structures, socio-economic levels and backgrounds.

“Access to affordable, high quality early childhood education is critical to supporting workforce participation, attracting new families and workers to the shire, contributing to local economic development and achieving the community’s main priorities and aspirations.

“We commission regular reviews of our childcare services to ascertain if the market or the community need has changed and what we need to consider when running these services into the future.

“Our Children’s Services review found that while there are a mix of providers in the shire, the majority of these, including the Council-run services, are at capacity and have waiting lists.

“Anecdotally, we hear regularly that businesses and key services like the hospital are unable to attract new staff as they cannot find childcare.

“While it’s great to see a number of national and state initiatives underway to investigate and address barriers to affordable, accessible, equitable and quality early childhood education services, today’s Council resolution confirms our commitment to providing childcare in the Bega Valley and to start the planning process to determine if and how we can grow into the future to meet community need.

“In the meantime, we will continue to deliver the high-quality childcare, preschool and early learning we have been delivering to the community for many years.”

/Public Release. View in full here.