Baranduda needs childcare

Felix Petersen, 2, his mother, Julie Kleehammer and her daughter, Poppy Petersen, 4
Felix Petersen, 2, his mother, Julie Kleehammer and her daughter, Poppy Petersen, 4

BARANDUDA’S once-a-week occasional childcare program is merely a “stop-gap” rather than a permanent solution for the growing suburb, says the manager of one Wodonga childcare service.

Wodonga’s Community Early Years Childcare hires the Baranduda Community Centre every Friday to run the popular program, with the queue of parents and children out the door each week.

Wodonga Council said the situation was unlikely to change in the near future, with private childcare providers unlikely to see the area as profitable.

Community Early Years Childcare manager Anne Bowler said it decided to run the Baranduda program after the state government axed its Take-A-Break occasional childcare funding in 2011.

The program, funded by the federal government, is designed for mobile providers to provide childcare to rural communities that don’t have access to other services.

But there’s only enough money available for Community Early Years Childcare to run the program one day a week and there are only 15 spots.

“It’s not enough,” Ms Bowler said.

“They could probably do with a long daycare as well, which would encompass all the needs out there.”

Wodonga Council’s manager for family, youth and early childhood Marcia Armstrong said long daycare was provided by private operators, for whom the market dictated where they chose to invest.

“Generally speaking you need to have in excess of 60 places in a long daycare centre to be financially viable,” she said.

“Many of the long daycare providers in Wodonga are operating in excess of that.

“People who are going to invest in long daycare need to be confident of the market.”

Ms Armstrong said the council was supportive of any developments in Baranduda.

“Long daycare will come along with the development of Baranduda and other services in the next five to 10 years,” she said.

The council operates an occasional care program in Wodonga at the Southern Rise Children’s Centre.

Occasional care licences are the domain of the Australian government under the Department of Education.

There are no more supported occasional care licences available from the Department of Education.