Childcare centre to close a week before Christmas

Nicole Willoughby-Green with her son and concerned parent Kirsty Fleming with her children at the centre. Photo: Megan Dunn
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Penrith Community Aid Childcare Centre will close its doors on December 18 after giving parents just one month’s notice to find alternative daycare placement for their children.

Parent, Nicole Willoughby-Green, said it has been hard to look for another centre that is as good as Penrith Community Aid, especially because her son, Nicholas, attends five days a week.

“I looked around and there was no places for five days at any centre, except for one,” Ms Willoughby-Green said.

“The only one I found is going to cost close to $30 more a day than I pay now.”

The centre on Reserve Street, Penrith is privately operated but based in a Council-owned building.

A Council spokesperson confirmed the centre requires repairs to the internal floors and other expensive areas that could cost in excess of $90,000.

The spokesperson said the decision was made by Penrith Community Aid to close their long day care service, that currently caters for up to 15 children a day from 0 to five-years-old and is used by 27 families.

Director of Penrith Community Aid, Tracey Gill, said the centre is in the process of trying to stay open.

“We are looking at the possibility of relocating the centre to another building while we get the work done,” Ms Gill said.

“The fight and determination the parents have to keep us open is just amazing – they’ve been fighting endlessly.”

Penrith Council’s Children’s Services Manager met with staff from the centre in mid-November to discuss possible alternative employment opportunities for the six staff who face being without a job.

“Although not our service, we did provide support and advice to the centre,” the Council spokesperson said.

“Council has licenced the use of the building to Community Aid since 1994.

“Under the agreement Community Aid paid no rent but was responsible for repairs and maintenance.”

Ms Willoughby-Green said she was shocked when the announcement was made, and said she was unsure if she would or could follow the centre if it was to move to another location.

“There was no negotiation or consultation with the parents and now, because of late notice, parents are struggling to find somewhere else to send their children,” she said.

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