Wagga Wagga City Council last night resolved to withdraw as a licensee of Family Day Care Services (FDC) in Wagga. The decision will take effect next financial year.
A combination of reasons including the declining service model, the withdrawal of Federal Government funding over past years, and the impact of COVID-19 have contributed to Council taking this position as an approved FDC licensee.
Council General Manager Peter Thompson said four staff members will be affected and Council is working closely with those staff members on redeployment and redundancy options.
Mr Thompson said an independent service review for Council’s involvement in Family Day Care was completed in March 2020, just before the effects of COVID-19 affected Wagga.
“The review focused on the business operations and the financial position of the service going forward. This was required due to the decline in educator and family numbers correlating with the increase in alternative childcare market offerings in Wagga Wagga, fee price sensitivity, a shortfall in revenue due to declining numbers, the cumulative impact of the withdrawal of the Federal operations grant subsidy, and increasing costs in legislative compliance requirements,” Mr Thompson said.
“Over the years Council has been operating the service based on grants and fees and charges. The service review identified that the FDC service was financially unsustainable due to the reasons just mentioned, while COVID-19 has not been a primary driver of the decision, it has severely impacted on the service and on some Family Day Care businesses ceasing to operate during COVID-19.”
Mr Thompson said the COVID-19 Federal Government early childhood education care and relief package only allows for Council to retain 50 percent of operating costs for the FDC coordination service. The shortfall draws immediately on the FDC reserve, he said.
Mr Thompson said Council staff will be providing information and support to Family Day Care business operators to transition their registration to another licensee in the region or State if they wish to continue their business.
Options for educators in Wagga may include being registered under licensed providers in Junee, Hume Billabong or Albury. The decision of Council does not restrict their ability to continue to provide their service in the Wagga region.
Mr Thompson recognised the role Council has played in providing the Wagga Wagga community with childcare services.
“We trust that our community understands this difficult decision and that despite declining numbers in recent years, Family Day Care in Wagga has delivered and provided excellent childcare services,” he said.
“I take this opportunity to thank all those involved over that time for their contribution and care services to our community.”