Child care centres stay in house under new operating model

We will reenergise our child care facilities under a new model to bring better value for rate payers and families.

The new model will revitalise nine of our child care centres by consolidating some services and balancing enrolments across different age groups to implement the best operating model.

In reviewing the ballooning costs, we put together a working group that included staff, union representatives, two councillors and an expert consultant. The group were tasked with developing a proposal to improve the operations and financial performance of Council’s long day care centres.

We also considered seven tenders from child care providers to either sell or lease the centres.

Mayor Steve Christou said the working group had ‘run the numbers’ and recommended keeping the operation of the centres in Council’s control, with some adjustment to the operating model to make sure these services are financially viable in the longer term.

“We’ve had to take a long, hard look at enrolment numbers, costs of staff and facilities and how to get the best value for money for both rate payers and families,” Mayor Christou said.

“When it comes to quality care for children, it’s an important and sensitive topic that’s close to the hearts of many families who rely on our services.

“We believe we’ve come to a fair and equitable decision that will balance the needs of families and the community.”

The Council-owned and run long day care centres provide care for 660 children and are heavily subsidised by the rate payer – up to $1.9 million a year.

“The existing model was expensive and not sustainable. This new model will ensure we can offer quality care at better value.

“We pledged to explore all options and keep an open mind and we’ve done that with the help of key stakeholders in the working group who’ve done an incredible job in weighing up the options.

“With staff costs and overheads, it was difficult to compete with private providers.”

While there will be an overall reduction in places for children under 3 years, it will be phased in over two years to allow the children to transition into the older groups, meaning those families who currently access this care, will not be left without the care they need for children in this age group.

The new model allows us to balance the provision of this service which many families rely heavily on, with the legal obligation we have to ensure we apply sound financial management and value for money to our rate payers.

“We’ve heard and listened to our community. We have achieved a positive outcome for those who wanted the operation of this service to remain under our control but similarly those who have expressed concern about how heavily this service was being subsidised by all ratepayers have been heard,” Mayor Christou said.

“This really is a win-win for everyone and we thank the community for expressing your views and for your patience whilst we have worked through this complex matter.”

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