PROVIDING quality and in demand community services is a tough job for local independent businesses says High Wycombe child care centre owner and operator Marisha Chadd.
KidsHQ Jacaranda opened last week after $200,000 of renovations to bring the building, previously operated by Goodstart Early Learning, in line with national quality standards (NQS).
Mrs Chadd, whose two other child care centres in High Wycombe are currently operating at full capacity, said KidsHQ stepped in to help relieve pressure on local families.
“But it took us two weeks to complete the renovations to help meet several criteria of the national quality standards,” she said.
“There was no support for those families during those two weeks and no support for us because we’re classed as for-profit,” she said.
“But the community needs to know that as an independent we’re very different than the big for-profit corporate companies.
“Small independent operators are generally local people doing it tough, we have so many battles and we work extremely hard to provide exceptional services within the community we live.
“The same community where many services are closing down.”
KidsHQ management took over the premises one day after Goodstart Early Learning closed on January 31.
A GoodStart Early Learning spokesperson said the not-for-profit decided not to renew the High Wycombe centre’s lease for operational reasons and had identified opportunities to support child enrolments and employment of staff at nearby centres including Maida Vale.
Despite Mrs Chadd’s two other child care centres, KidsHQ and KidsClub, having a rating of ‘exceeding’ the NQS, KidsHQ Jacaranda adopted the previous centre’s “working towards the NQS’ rating.
WA Department of Communities acting assistant director general Brad Jolly said independent child care providers were subject to the same regulations as private and government operated child care services.
“The quality rating of a child care service is determined from an assessment of how that individual service is operating – it is not a rating of the person or company that owns it,” he said.
“That quality rating remains until the next time the service is assessed, regardless of whether the service is in the same ownership or has been sold.”
The NQS rating is judged on seven conditions, educational program and practice, children’s health and safety, physical environment, staffing, relationships with children, partnerships with families and communities and governance and leadership.
Rating status is assessed every three years but KidsHQ Jacaranda can apply to have their service re-rated earlier.
Forrestfield MLA Stephen Price said his electorate could do with more child care facilities.
“The early years, from conception to the start of school, set the foundations for a child’s future wellbeing and success,” he said.
“Therefore there is always a demand for high quality child care services and spaces in the electorate fill quickly, particularly as young families are moving into the area.”
He said he had supported discussions for increased quality child care and family services in new residential developments and had explored opportunities for child care services at established properties.
Mrs Chadd said taking on the new centre was a financial risk for the business, but the communities response for its services had shown there was a demand in the immediate area.
“The project has set us back approximately $200,000 and this is where our funds are going, re-establishing services that are closing to ensure the community has access to services,” Mrs Chadd said.
“I want the community to understand that there is a difference between independent for profit and corporate for-profit and I want the community to support local businesses.”
By Claire Ottaviano