BALLARAT requires 150 extra child care places, according to a new report on the crisis.
And Ballarat City Council is likely to become the driving force behind remedying the shortfall, with the report recommending a new plan which includes substantially increasing its family day care network.
Childcare Provision and Opportunities in the Ballarat Area, formulated by a steering group including community members, Ballarat MHR Catherine King and council officers, has found that despite projections indicating decreases in the number of children requiring care in the future, due to growth in Ballarat and surrounding areas, demand is likely to increase.
The report, set to be released later this week, has recommended -
* The council immediately develops a recruitment strategy to attract family day care givers;
* It should facilitate the expansion of existing services;
* The council and steering committee should investigate the cost-effectiveness of transfer sponsorship of existing services that are addressing issues of sustainability;
* A mechanism to monitor waiting lists should be developed;
* The childcare steering committee should be formalised to continue discussing children's services.
The report says Ballarat currently had a population of about 6500 children aged five or under, serviced by about 950 full time child care places.
"Although the population of children under four years of age is predicted to decline by five to six per cent until 2021, the future success of Ballarat in attracting both new businesses and families may produce different figures to those predicted," the report says.
"Without doubt the ideal mix for Ballarat families is a service model that provides access to extended hours long day care to meet rotating shift requirements, flexibility in terms of both hours per day and days per week and within a reasonable travelling distance from home or employment.
"We estimate the number of additional places required within the City of Ballarat to be 150 EFTs (effective full-time places).
"These places could be provided by a mixture of family day care and centre-based long day care and would be additional to the 70 previously identified additional family day care places."