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Childcare shortage

Saturday, 9th July, 2011

Shadow Minister for Child Care and Early Childhood Learning, Sussan Ley said the closure of the Lilliput Early Learning Centre leaves the city with a shortage of long-day care options.

The centre was handed over to liquidators, meaning the city now has only two long-day care services still running, with 15 children needing alternative long-day care.

Ms Ley, the Member for Farrer, said she began following the troubles of Lilliput last month and was upset when she heard the news on Thursday.

“I knew there was trouble last month when they were going to close their babies room,” said Ms Ley.

“(It’s upsetting) because it’s a business that’s gone under.

“I feel for the staff and the parents who can not find alternative child care places.”

Ms Ley said the new 700-page National Quality Framework implemented by the government last July has so far reduced the carer to child ratio from 1:5 to 1:4, and set new staff qualification requirements.

Lilliput Early Learning Centre had to close their infant section and make a staff member redundant to keep their business afloat.

Owner Kerry Moreton told the BDT in June that the 1:5 was putting considerable strain on the centre.

“At five to one, it pays for the staff member and part of the overheads.”

“At four to one, it doesn’t pay for itself.”

Ms Ley is now calling on the Government to wind back the quality framework.

“It’s highly complicated,” she said.

“I am hearing these stories across the country from directors that fear they may have to close their doors.”

She said directors have told of their fear in having to ask parents to pay an increased fee because of the changes.

“I’m starting to hear from mums who would like to go back to work but can’t.”

“Often the people who move to Broken Hill don’t have their family members, they don’t have family to fall back on.”

Ms Ley said she was writing to Minister for Child Care and Early Childhood Learning Kate Ellis.

“The Government needs to know what’s happening.”

Minister for Child Care, Kate Ellis said the Government was committed to ensuring families have access to quality affordable care.

“I appreciate that this is a difficult time for families, however, these decisions are a matter for individual service providers.

“We provide funding for an unlimited number of long day care places to enable services to set up or expand.

“Overall we are investing $20 billion in early childhood education and care - well more than double that provided by the previous government.” 

Meanwhile, the centre was listed on a realestate agent’s website yesterday for $350,000.

 

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