GREG'S LEGACY

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Whitfield childcare at risk

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Written by NATALIE KOTSIOS. (Archived 28/12/07)

THE Whitfield Community Childcare Centre will be forced to close its doors in the new year if a replacement director cannot be found, leaving the region’s families with no childcare options.Since learning of the previous director’s plans for retirement months ago, the centre’s committee has been searching for a new qualified childcare practitioner – but so far its efforts have been in vain.And as the region’s only daycare resource, should the centre close, parents will have to look to travel to Moyhu for childcare – which already has a waiting list itself – or Wangaratta.The centre opened its doors almost 20 years ago, offering childcare one day a week to give parents in the Whitfield region a break and the children a chance to socialise.

Whitfield Community Childcare’s former teacher, Sue Venville – who retired from the position last week after 18 years – relayed her fears for the future of the centre.

“We do need to make sure the centre’s supported because if it’s closed, they will probably struggle to re-open it again,” she said.

The 15-place centre, for children aged two to five years old, has largely relied on funding grants to keep it running – and as young families continue to move into the region, demand for places is already exceeding the centre’s capabilities, with eight children currently on the waiting list.

Centre treasurer, Liz Proft, said the future was hinging on finding a replacement director.

Mrs Proft, who has had two daughters attend the childcare centre and a third on the waiting list, said the region’s families would be disappointed if the centre had to close.

“It’s just become such an amazing resource for us,” she said.

“It gives the kids a chance to socialise, but it’s just as important for the parents as well to have a break.

“We’re a close-knit community, so the social aspect has been wonderful – the children have so much fun together.”

Ms Proft put the lack of interest in the position down to the centre’s location and the fact it was only for one day a week, but still held out hope the committee would find someone soon.

She said the committee would even consider hiring, in compliance with Department of Human Services guidelines, a completing childcare graduate.

Comment:
This is a sad reflection on the plight of small village communities in the Rural City of Wangaratta. The community should lobby the council to provide a new director at the council’s cost. If the Whitfield centre is forced to close, it only adds to the burden on Wangaratta’s facilities.

It would also be worth approaching our federal member, Sophie Mirabella, to take this issue up with the new government. We have a baby boom going on in the King Valley and we need more – not less – infrastructure to cope with our future.

This loss of services is not restricted to childcare, we are also facing the potential loss of our King Valley United football team. What a tragedy it would be to lose either of them.

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Written by Greg Naylor

28 December 2007 at 9:49 pm

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