“The impending closure of St Andrews Childcare demonstrated clearly to me how the Community Foundation can be a vehicle for change in times of crisis. It works only in the interests of the community so the best outcome can be achieved for all.”Kate Buxton
In late 2013, St Andrews Childcare were threatened with closure, announcing they were not viable to continue operating. The board of the Community Foundation decided to act quickly to see what it could do to help keep the facility’s doors open in the short term, while also helping to create a plan for its long term viability.
The Community Foundation took a leading role in the community partnership formed between the South Gippsland Shire and parent advocacy group while immediate action was taken to cover the deficit and find a new operator through the tendering process.
New equipment for centre
Thankfully a suitable replacement was found and in early 2014 YMCA Ballarat became the new operators of the centre. The Community Foundation provided new equipment funding of $10,000 and resources support to assist recovery.
The centre flourished with increased attendance to the service, the new equipment provided children with added stimulating and exciting activities to educate and entertain them.
The Foundation believes the service a vital social and community facility for the Mirboo North district community, allowing parents to be able to work locally and for children to begin transition to early education.
Today the Community Foundation continues to work and communicate closely with the YMCA, Parents Advocacy Group and South Gippsland Shire Council so that the service can continue to operate viably for years to come.
When UnitingCare announced that it would close the doors of the Mirboo North Early learning Centre – St Andrews Childcare, then Chair of the Community Foundation, Kate Buxton, said it was important to provide support and start a conversation immediately around how to keep it open.
This key community facility had been planned, designed and built after much community collaboration and effort and was operated by UnitingCare from its opening in 2006.In 2013, UnitingCare announced that it would be suspending the service unless a suitable replacement operator could be found. A total of 559 people signed a petition to present to the South Gippsland Shire Council, in support of continuing an accessible child care service in Mirboo North.
“The Community Foundation was in a unique position as it can act quickly to provide support in times of crisis. By talking immediately with all the community organisations involved we found that if we provided a grant it would cover deficit funding to keep the childcare open, then there would be ample time for the shire to begin the tender process and appoint a new service provider.”
“Personally for me, this demonstrated how the community foundation can act solely in the interest of the community in a proactive and effective way to create impact.”
Kate says because of the conversations they were able to have quickly they were able to keep the childcare open for the short term but also enable planning for the long term viability of the service.
St Andrews Childcare
St Andrews Childcare was conceptualised when a passionate group of local parents surveyed the community for interest in an ‘out of school hours’ daycare service. With funding from the Federal and State Governments and St. Andrew’s Uniting Church (including the provision of land), parents celebrated the opening of the centre in 2006.
St Andrews Childcare is situated at 32 Ridgway, Mirboo North and is now operated by YMCA. Qualified and experienced educators deliver a wide range of activities and experiences to extend each child’s learning in a play-based setting. Parents can have peace of mind knowing their children are cared for in a stimulating, caring and fun environment.