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    West Wimmera Shire chief executive David Bezuidenhout.

Next step for Edenhope childcare plan

West Wimmera Shire Council has officially endorsed a plan to establish a new childcare service in Edenhope.

Council staff members have been working with Edenhope parents on a new pilot program for childcare in the town. 

Councillors discussed the proposed service at a council meeting last week and have authorised officers to apply for state and federal government approvals.

The council has also started staff recruitment for the service, with job advertisements appearing online and on social media. 

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Council chief executive David Bezuidenhout said the hope was to open the service on April 26, the start of the second school term.

But he said this would only happen based on government approvals and recruiting of an appropriate number of qualified staff.

“Unfortunately, there are no guarantees as to the start date, but we will update families with any new information throughout the process,” he said. 

Last month, the council called for families intending to use the service to register their expressions of interest.

As a result, more families expressed a need for the service than the number of places available for children aged under three. There were, however, enough places available for children over three to accommodate the demand. 

The council will now establish a waiting list for children who cannot fit in the first round of offers. 

It has also authorised officers to increase the service offering after an initial establishment period, subject to qualified staffing availability. 

Edenhope has a family-day-care provider, who operates a service out of an Edenhope kindergarten building.

Mr Bezuidenhout said the council was in discussion with the provider about the future of the program.

“We have given a guarantee that children in family day care will have first access to childcare, if that service doesn’t continue,” he said. 

“Also, if there are delays in starting the new service, we will facilitate the continuation of family day care.”

At last week’s meeting, the councillors also authorised officers to investigate a potential family-day-care service at the Goroke Kindergarten that would operate three days a week.

The entire March 23, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!