Tuesday, March 17, 2009

a childcare dream realised

Today I had the great pleasure of attending Sherbrooke Children’s Centre (SCC) to hear Maxine Morand, Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development, announce funding towards the construction of an integrated Children’s Services Hub on the SCC site in Upwey.

The State Government have allocated $500,000 towards the project and at the same time Minister Morand confirmed federal funding of $1.6 million. This has been a community dream realised.

Me, on site at Sherbrooke Children's Centre. Currently the centre has 297 on the waiting list, expanding the centre from 39 places to 110 places will go a long way to addressing the need for good quality community based childcare across the Dandenong Ranges.

For many years the community has campaigned to save Long Day Care at SCC, back in 2004 the council of the day wanted to close Sherbrooke Children’s Centre and 2009 was the year the centre was going to shut forever.

The news of this rippled through the community and a dedicated group of parents worked very hard to galvanise the community in an effort to save SCC. I was one of those parents and can remember weekly meetings around various kitchen tables in houses across the hills where we developed our community’s dream for children’s services in the Dandenong Ranges. We always maintained the vision of an integrated service incorporating a range of family services and worked hard articulating this vision to council.

Five years down the track with two council elections under my belt, a huge step closer to achieving a Children’s Services Hub for the Dandenongs, today has been a great day for children in the Shire. The building of the Children’s Services Hub will see the recommitment to children and the early years by the Shire of Yarra Ranges council.

Today’s announcement follows on the footstep of a very positive community meeting I attended last night to discuss the plans for the site. Community members embraced the concepts and plans before them, with one community member summing up the vision well “we want it to be magical for children”.

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