THE future of council-run childcare centres in the Blacktown local government area could be in jeopardy.
After months of speculation about its 24 centres, Blacktown Council has received the findings of an independent childcare review by consultancy MarcoPlan Dimasi.
The review recommends demolishing two centres and selling the properties and converting three to other purposes because of operational losses.
MarcoPlan Dimasi recommended the council suspend its vacation-care and before-school and after-school programs.
It called for a further report into the viability of the council’s existing centres in 12 months’ time.
The review also stressed the need for a community engagement plan.
The report was presented to councillors
at last week’s policy meeting.
Mayor Len Robinson deferred the report, and said he was disappointed
the findings didn’t go far enough.
Cr Robinson reportedly said council should opt out of childcare, but won’t confirm or deny his comments.
“The report did not address the issue as intended by the current administration,’’ Cr Robinson said.
‘‘An amended recommendation will be provided at the ordinary meeting on October 30.’’
Melissa McHugh and daughter Chloe, 4, will be among many people left in the lurch if the council opts out of child care.
‘‘It’s going to affect friends and grandparents who pick up the slack,’’ she said.
‘‘I find the whole thing quite disturbing. Chloe loves it there and the staff are fantastic.
‘‘I’ll occasionally ask them to look after Chloe on days she doesn’t usually go there.
‘‘The centre is usually accommodating.’’
Mrs McHugh described plans to opt out of childcare as ‘‘rubbish’’.
‘‘The council has a responsibility to look after the community,’’ she said.
‘‘You can’t put a developer or money above the kids, who are our future.’’
The topic is expected to spark a heated debate between councillors at next week’s meeting.
Labor councillor Stephen Bali fears opting out of child care will affect the quality of centres across the area.
‘‘The council has set the standard in quality childcare,’’ Cr Bali said.