Staff, parents fear for future of council childcare

"WHAT do we want? A voice! When do we want it? Now!"

The chants of childcare employees and parents ahead of a Blacktown Council meeting became a reality last week.

The council will remain in childcare for at least another year after councillors voted to form an executive leadership team (ELT) to look at ways to make council-run centres viable.

It will report back to the council next year with a recommendation about future childcare arrangements.

Independent Russ Dickens proposed an amendment to the motion that two community members be on the ELT alongside several councillors and council managers.

"There's people in the community who are experts in childcare and would be a great addition to a council committee," he said.

Katrina Diab's two children are products of council-run childcare.

It would be cheaper to use private centres but Mrs Diab wants the best for her children.

"You get better quality care at a council-run centre," she said.

"These children are our future. When something's not broken, why fix it?"

Mrs Diab was among the crowd at the Village Green before last week's meeting, lobbying for community representation on the ELT.

"We're the ones's being affected," she said.

"I'm a passionate person and when something is wrong, I speak up.

"The uncertainty surrounding childcare has gone on for too long and there was no need for it."

A Mount Druitt childcare employee welcomed the ELT but feared what might happen next year.

"It's a good idea to have staff on the committee as they're on the frontline and know what's going on," he said.

"I'm concerned about my future because I am a male, which will make finding a job harder. I applied for hundreds of jobs before I got this one.

"I was lucky the council took a chance on me."

He had this message for the councillors: "Come and work with us for a day to get a feeling of what it's really like."

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