Tuesday, November 04, 2008

children’s hub goes from strength to strength

I recently went to a well attended community meeting to discuss the progress the Children’s Hub development for the Dandenong Ranges. The Hub idea was originally borne out of the Save Our Sherbrooke Children’s Centre group (yes, I was a member) as a strategy to ensure the future of long day care and children’s services in the Shire. At the time (2003-2005) I, along with other parents, was vigorously fighting to ensure that council provision of long day care at Sherbrooke Children’s Centre would remain.

It has been a long journey for Sherbrooke Children’s Centre (SCC), it was facing closure in 2009. I have worked very hard to advocate on behalf of all the families who utilise not only SCC but children’s services generally in the shire. The strong focus on the importance of children and early childhood development has seen council turn around its earlier decision to close SCC and invest in a Children’s Services Hub for the Dandenong Ranges. Children are a forgotten sector in our community, they have no voice. Having a seven year old boy I am very aware of the needs of children (and their parents) in our community. My son is a constant reminder about the need to consider children.

It has been a pleasure to advocate and support our children’s services in the hills. Whether it be the Toy Library, Kinders, SCC, Kidsfest, Maternal Child Health Services I have and always will advocate on their behalf.

SCC is the best quality long day care in the region, it is second to none and I have worked very hard to raise its profile within council. The figures are compelling, for every dollar spent on good quality early childhood development, $17 dollars of expense is saved further on. The waiting list for SCC continues to be phenomenal, at last count, families were waiting for 294 places in the centre.

Services proposed for the new Children’s Hub include:
Full time and part time child care, respite care, care for special needs children, toy library, pre school, maternal child health services, consulting rooms (for intervention services and/or family counselling for example), casual care, short term care, out of hours school care, space for adults to use and flexible community spaces.

The architect tasked with the design of the building has a great understanding of hills culture and his preliminary thoughts look to a design that really captures the essence of living in the hills, low scale and complete with environmentally sustainable design principles. I look forward to being re-elected to see this project through to completion.

If all goes to plan the centre will be built and ready to operate in 2010.

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