IT looks like any other childcare drop-off — parents lining up patiently, toddlers clutching their hands with brightly coloured backpacks in tow.
But the competition is fierce at Baranduda Community Centre every Friday morning; with only 15 places available for the weekly occasional childcare program, local parents need to get in quick or not at all.
“Why aren’t we going in?” one young boy asked his mum as she led him back outside.
“We can’t today, because there’s too many other children,” she said.
Residents say as Baranduda continues to grow with the arrival of young families, more childcare is needed — both long daycare and occasional care.
On any Friday, there are about seven children who inevitably miss out on the once-weekly community-based program.
Parents pay week-by-week as opposed to booking in for a term as they would with a private provider; which means the queue is out the door well before the 9am sign-in time.
Baranduda mum-of-two Julie Kleehammer used to take her children Poppy Petersen, 4, and Felix Petersen, 2, but decided the battle to get them in each week wasn’t worth it.
“I didn’t really like feeling like it was a competition,” she said.
Now Poppy attends preschool at the community centre and Felix goes to occasional care in Bandiana; but while it’s good to have a guaranteed place, she said she missed sending him to the local program.
“I like that we can walk there and that there are local kids there who my kids will keep bumping into at preschool, then at school,” she said.
“There’s not that many occasional care places around ... and it’s such a good idea if you don’t have family around to help you out.”
Two other mums, who asked not to be named, continue to run the gauntlet each week; last week, one managed to get her four-year-old in, but the other didn’t.
They know they can’t rely on it each week, and said a long daycare service was needed.
“There’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing where families have kids who go to kinder here (at the community centre), daycare in Wodonga, and at the school here,” said one, who does the Wodonga daycare trip two days a week.