After four years waiting, Boggabri is a step closer to securing permanent childcare in town but residents don’t expect supervision to start any time soon.
The Boggabri Community Facilities and Childcare Committee was thrilled when Narrabri Shire Council last year helped purchase the disused Boggabri Bowling Club with the intention of re-purposing the building into a new childcare centre.
The proposed centre already has a childcare provider ready to go but before renovations can start, let alone have children in care, committee spokeswoman Cath Collyer said a council business plan had to be finalised. Only then could an application be made for the federally-funded Long Day Care Capital Funding Exceptional Circumstances Grant, which the centre required.
“We don't have any childcare here at the moment,” Ms Collyer said.
“It’s something we’ve tried to get happening for the last four years but it doesn't seem to be a priority for council. It’s disappointing the time it has taken.”
Council said their operational plan featured an action to “review shire-wide childcare needs with providers and community to identify gaps between supply and demand”.
“Over this financial year we will be conducting this review and from there we will be able to ascertain where childcare services are required,” a council spokesperson said.
In the last three years, Ms Collyer said 29 new babies had been born into the community.
If no alternative childcare could be found in Boggabri, the only option for some families was to seek care outside town, sometimes permanently.
“There’s been situations where families had to move to Gunnedah or Narrabri because the parents needed to work,” fellow committee member Donna Turner said.
The committee said the centre’s potential benefit to the Boggabri township would surpass a simple need for more childcare places.
“We need this to attract growth and entice more families to town,” Ms Collyer said.
Neigbouring towns which have also felt the strain from limited childcare, would reap the rewards of a fast-tracked Boggabri centre.
“It’s needed to free up spaces in Gunnedah and Narrabri,” she said.
The region’s childcare shortage concerned advocacy group, Early Childhood Australia, which recommend children have access to at least two days of early learning in childcare centre or pre-school for at least two years before they start school.
Have you been affected by the childcare shortfall? How have you managed? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org