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Government Health Child Protection

Children First Outside Of School Hours Care Hub to open

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Children First

An upshot of the NSW Government’s $120 million 2019 election commitment to create more out-of-school hours care vacancies, particularly across regional areas of the state, the opening of the Children First Outside Of School Hours (OOSH) Care Hub at Tamworth South Public School will be officially celebrated on 27 July 2022, from 3.15pm.

The Grand Opening ribbon-cutting event coincides with OOSH Educators Day – an initiative of the Network of Community Activities, which is the peak representative body for out-of-school hours care in NSW and the ACT.

Operated by one of Australia’s longest-running, not-for-profit community services providers, Growing Potential, the Children First OOSH Care Hub at Tamworth South Public School actually opened its doors to locals last year (on 26 July 2021) but was not officially celebrated at the time due to Covid-19 restrictions.

To be attended by Tamworth Mayor Russell Webb, in addition to Growing Potential Limited Board Members, Hub staff, representatives of Tamworth South Public School, currently-enrolled children of the Hub and local families, the event will include a special smoking ceremony by well-known Kamilaroi region Aboriginal Elder, Uncle Len Waters.

It will also feature a free sausage sizzle, tours of the Hub facilities, meet and greet opportunities with the Tamworth Hub educators, performances by local school children, giveaways, kids’ activities and loads more family-friendly entertainment.

“We’ve been itching to celebrate the opening of our Hub with the local community for quite some time now,” says Children First OOSH Care Hub Manager, Louise Varano.

“We’re very proud of the Hub, its facilities, its support offering for Tamworth families, and of the prospects for positive community reengagement through the Hub now that an increasing number of people are returning to their workplaces and community functions.

“It really does take a village when it comes to raising children and OOSH care is so important in this regard. Not only does it facilitate quality care for the children of working families, it provides an opportunity for locals to connect.

“Of course, the pandemic has impeded on our ability to-date to physically show-off the Hub to local families, and while we’re currently at 50 per cent capacity, we’re anticipating a swift increase in enrolments now that the Tamworth community (not unlike the rest of the country) seems to have settled-in to some sort of ‘new normal’ since the end of the lockdowns,” adds Varano.

A survey conducted by the Department of Education suggests that this year, an average of 28 local children are likely to attend the service before school, 22 a day for after-school care and five daily for vacation care at the Children First OOSH Care Hub, which has a capacity for 30 children daily.

Tamworth South Public School is one of 47 schools initially identified by the NSW Government as appropriate locations for an OOSH care hub. Under the $20 million NSW Government program, a second round of scoping locations for more out-of-school hours care hubs is currently underway.

According to a report on Government Services 2020, approximately 148,665 children across NSW aged between 6-12 attended Government CCS-approved child care services in 2019, which is 37 per cent higher attendance than in 2014 and approximately 85 per cent higher than attendance recorded for 2010.

When the NSW Government’s $20 million program was announced, State Member for Tamworth, Kevin Anderson MP said: “The NSW Nationals know that every child in Tamworth deserves proper before and after school care when they need it. Working families need before and after school care to help keep the lights on and help put food on the table, all while balancing a young family.”

Otto Henfling

Otto Henfling, CEO of Growing Potential Limited.

Growing Potential Limited CEO Otto Henfling says, “We’re truly delighted to finally officially launch the Children First OOSH Care Hub at Tamworth South Public School, especially as families are contending with the rising cost of living.

“Our service is CCS-approved and accepts the NSW Government’s BASC vouchers. Being a not-for-profit, community services provider, we’re generally in-tune with community sentiment and we’re confident our custom-designed and affordable Children First OOSH Care Hub will help ease the common waitlist burden for Tamworth local families.

“Our mission since inception more than 70 years ago is to support and grow the potential of children, families and communities. We’re all about building nurturing relationships with families and community. We provide early intervention and disability support, educator training, and Aboriginal services across Greater Sydney, Hunter New England, Mid North Coast, and Australia-wide via telehealth and online webinars.

“Children First is one of four subsidiaries that operate under the Growing Potential umbrella. We’re particularly proud of Children First, which humbly began in 1948 as a mothers’ group in Blacktown in Western Sydney.

“Today, Children First is a service providing preschool, long day care, outside school hours, and vacation care to children of all abilities across seven centres, with more centres in the pipeline for across NSW, especially in the state’s regional areas,” explains Mr Henfling.

The Children First OOSH Care Hub at Tamworth South Public School opens from 7am-8.40am, 3pm-6pm and 7am-6pm for vacation care. Its curriculum is supported by the Australian Government’s ‘My Time, Our Place’ Framework for school aged care.

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