Childcare running low in Ballarat

WHEN Verity Archer planned her move to Ballarat last year, she thought putting her children’s names on childcare waiting lists for six months would be long enough to secure places.

But when she arrived, she was surprised to learn that at four different centres there was no full-time care available. 

Some had nothing available while others could offer limited care.

“It’s very stressful because going back to work full-time after having a second child has been hard anyway, but not being able to get the childcare place made the move a little more stressful than it should have been,” Dr Archer said.

“We’re just a little bit angry that there’s not more quality childcare centres available.”

Dr Archer, who lectures at the University of Ballarat, said her two-year-old now receives care three days per week, while her six-month-old has one-and-a-half days per week.

“Luckily my employer is very understanding and we’re juggling a lot,” she said. 

“My partner obviously has to take time off work but it’s fortunate that we’ve got flexible employment where we can work nights and weekends.

“But not everybody has that luxury and it has also put a strain on us and means less time doing family activities.”

Dr Archer and her family aren’t the only ones struggling to access childcare centres.

The Ballarat Childcare Cooperative waiting list varies depending on the age of the child, but in the past 12 months no new toddlers have moved up the list.

The privately run Lake Gardens Children’s Centre still has places available, however City of Ballarat childcare centres at Wendouree and Girrabanya also have waiting lists. Families looking for full-time care can wait several months, a council spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the Good Start Early Learning Centres have lengthy waiting lists, including just under 30 families at the Mount Clear centre, just over 30 in Delacombe and 15 in Ballarat.

Ballarat MP Catherine King acknowledged access to childcare services was an ongoing problem.

“It’s been one of the big issues from the first day I was a member of parliament,” she said.

“There obviously continues to be lots of waiting lists across the district and that’s happening everywhere.

“One of the things the government has done is to concentrate on childcare affordability, so increasing the childcare rebate to 50 per cent.”

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