Council secures grant funding to expand Longreach Childcare Centre
Longreach Regional Council will receive $150,000 from the Australian Government to help fund an expansion of the Longreach Childcare Centre that will double the capacity of the facility.
Importantly, the planned expansion of the centre will take place within the existing centre footprint, without the need to construct any new buildings. Saving costs by cleverly maximising existing space, the renovations could create up to 108 extra childcare places and support the employment of up to five additional roles once completed.
Council has seen a significant spike in enrolments and enquiries for bookings at the centre, and has unlocked some flexibility to accommodate extra enrolments. However, the centre is reaching capacity constraints, particularly in its babies room.
Mayor Tony Rayner says Council is committed to supporting the service in the absence of a viable private sector alternative.
“It’s so important that we continue to support the centre, and keep up with demand” he told reporters. “The centre supports vital workforce participation outcomes in our communities.
“I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of the most important things our Council does to support the local economy.”
The need to expand the centre was underlined earlier this year when Central West Hospital and Health Service advised that a record number of births are due to take place at the Longreach Hospital in the next 12 months. Some 100 babies will be born in Longreach this year, at least half of which will be born to families residing in the Longreach region.
With no comparable child care service available in the community, Council is forecasting a higher than usual increase in demand will occur from 2022. This demand is projected to continue for at least 4-5 years, given many of these children are likely to require care until they commence Primary School.
In order for the centre to meet forecast demand, the capacity of the babies and toddlers rooms needs to be increased. The expansion of each of these rooms into existing hallway and office space will increase the area of each room to accommodate a further 28 enrolments to Long Day Care services. In addition to this, upgrades to bathrooms in the outside school hours care room will increase its capacity allowing more space in the kindy and pre-kindy rooms for future growth..
Mayor Rayner said Council had advocated strongly in support of its application to the Australian Government Community Child Care Fund.
“We are proud of the submission we put together and we backed that up by meeting with Ministers in Canberra to fully apprise them of our requirements” he said. “We’ve had great support all the way and we look forward to working closely with the Department of Education Skills and Employment on delivering this project.”
Work on the Longreach Childcare Centre Expansion is expected to commence in December this year.