Learning centre thrown a lifeline

THE embattled Rosedale Neighbourhood Kids Early Learning Centre looks set to remain in operation until at least June next year, after receiving almost $50,000 in rescue funding from federal and local governments.

While the funding will provide a short reprieve from the centre’s current financial issues, it is not a permanent fix. 

Rosedale Neighbourhood House chair, Owen Drummond, said all involved with the centre were “ecstatic” with the announcement, but understood enrolment numbers needed to improve to remain viable in the long term.

“These grants, alongside the small spike in enrolments we’ve received, are just enough to cover our projected deficit for the 2015-16 financial year,” Mr Drummond said.

“This gives us the breathing space to move beyond the current situation and to make the required changes for ongoing sustainability. 

“We will continue to monitor our sustainability closely in coming months.”

Concerns over the future of the centre have been  widespread among Rosedale residents in recent months, with falling enrolment numbers bringing its sustainability into question. 

Before receiving the funding, the centre urgently needed up to 34 new attendees to keep its long day care, Kinder Kare and after school programs in operation beyond October 30. 

Aware of the desperate need for financial support, Gippsland MHR Darren Chester wrote to Social Services Minister Scott Morrison.

The result was $40,000 in interim sustainability assistance funding for the centre, $30,000 of which will be delivered this financial year.

Mr Chester said the federal government funding was a significant step forward for the township, which needed facilities like the early learning centre to facilitate future growth.

“This is good news, and while I appreciate it is an interim solution, it does provide the centre with breathing space,” he said.

“The town is perfectly placed to benefit from arrival of new families and it is important they are able to access services such as child care. 

“I have offered my help to the Rosedale community to retain its child care centre into the future.”

Wellington Shire Council wiped away the remaining hole in the Neighbourhood House’s budget by handing $18,000 to the centre, and pledging to work with it regarding its long term future.

The revitalisation of the town has been a massive focus for the local community and Rosedale Chamber of Commerce in recent years, with the introduction of the successful Man Cave Market among many attempts to boost the small town.

Rosedale resident Phoebe Moncur said the loss of a key service such as the early learning centre would have been a major backward step for the town, which was projected to see significant development in coming years.

“I was so happy to receive the news from Darren Chester’s office about the approval of the funding, and also glad to hear council’s acknowledgement that the centre needs to be continued as Rosedale develops,” Ms Moncur said.

“This centre is a much needed asset to the town, with the future growth predicted from new housing estates. 

“The flow-on effect that the early learning centre has to the town is significant, so it’s great that it has a future.”

After the centre had run at a loss for the previous five years, the approval of funding has allowed it to confidently look ahead. 

Mr Drummond said the centre would be looking at some of the recommendations parents had made regarding preferred care options, and encouraged prospective parents to look at the number of spaces currently available.

“We will be looking into before school care and Christmas holiday opening hours, among other things,” he said. 

“We look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with families, community and Wellington Shire Council to explore all options for ongoing sustainability.”