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Childcare crisis leaves parents to cope alone

Families get together outside Blackwater Tiny Tots in the hope of saving the child minding facility.
Families get together outside Blackwater Tiny Tots in the hope of saving the child minding facility.

THE Blackwater Tiny Tots Centre is facing an uncertain future after the State Government placed funding for all limited hours centres under review.

Tiny Tots director Yvonne Roberts said the announcement had come as “just another blow to the town”.

While the news doesn’t necessarily mean the centre will be closed, it does mean it will have to assess whether it will transition to a kindergarten or a long hours daycare centre in order to continue receiving financial support.

“We exist purely on the funding we get from the government, our fees and fundraising,” Yvonne said.

There is the option for the centre to continue running as it is, however this would only be viable if Tiny Tots was to receive this annual funding from an alternative source.

Yvonne said she had had some promising talks with various mining companies. She said the news had come as a shock for the not-for-profit organisation, which was given just over a week to prepare a management plan and provide evidence the facility was needed in the town.

The centre has 70 children aged from 15 months to five years currently enrolled, with 79 children on this year’s waiting list and a waiting list for the next two years.

“If we were to transition to kindergarten, too many children would be left out. What happens to any child under four years if we were to choose this option?”

Yvonne said parents were quite upset with the news and concerned about the lack of childcare places and future affordability of sending their children to childcare.

“We are still here for the community. Basically at the moment we’re just trying to gain support,” Yvonne said.

With only three child minding facilities in Blackwater, parents are worried about what may lay ahead.

Hayley Petersen sends her two-year-old daughter Charlize to Tiny Tots and said it was “mind-boggling” to think about what she would do without access to the centre.

“We have our own business here in town and I wouldn’t have anyone to take care of Charlize,” Hayley said.

She said affordability was a big factor that would change if the facility was to change from a limited hours centre to a long hours centre.

“Not all families will be able to pay for a whole week of childcare and not every child or family needs long childcare hours,” she said.

The local mum, who has lived in Blackwater for six years, said waiting lists were already “never ending” and that she even had her unborn child, due in October, on the list for the coming years.

“When people are screaming about childcare issues already in Blackwater it’s absolutely ridiculous,” she said.

Member for Gregory Vaughan Johnson, who condemned the Bligh Government’s denial of funding for bush kids and special needs children as a “disgrace”, said he was “sickened” by the latest news.


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