HEATHCOTE will soon be home to its first long-day care and early learning centre in a massive win for local families.
Labor Upper House Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes has secured more than half a million dollars in funding to build the centre.
The Heathcote project will establish a hub and spoke model of early years and children’s services linking in with the local kindergarten, playgroup, primary schools and a raft of family health and wellbeing services.
The centre will provide 76 places per day including a recognised kindergarten program for four-year-olds and flexible long-day care options.
Along with these educational facilities the hub will also include consulting rooms for early childhood services such as a maternal child health nurse, Bendigo community health professionals, pastoral care counselling and a multipurpose community room.
“As a working mother of young children I know how vital childcare services in country towns are; a lack of services holds working parents back and means new families will choose other towns to move to,’’ Ms Symes said.
“Heathcote Community Children’s Services Association president Sandra Slatter has been championing this project for some time and I am over the moon that I have been able to secure $650,000 in Andrews Labor Government funding for Heathcote’s first long-day care and early learning centre.
“We know that high-quality early years education and care are vital to giving our children the best start in life, which is why Labor is investing in first-rate early learning facilities.
“This exciting new facility will ensure Heathcote families can access quality childcare services closer to home to get their children ready for school and set for life.”
With the support of St John’s Anglican Church and the Diocese of Bendigo, the High Street site for the centre has been decided upon.
Ms Slatter said she was thrilled the project was finally going ahead.
‘‘It takes a village to raise a child. The foresight and vision of St John’s Anglican Church to embrace change and the generosity and collaborative approach of the Heathcote community are a testament to this statement,’’ she said.
‘‘Thank you to Jaclyn Symes, the Department of Education and the Labor Government — their contribution to this important project will pave the way for our children’s future.’’
Director for children, youth and family support services at Bendigo Community Health Service Andie West added her congratulations.
‘‘Receiving funding for the Heathcote Community Children’s Hub is a fantastic win for the Heathcote community,’’ she said.
‘‘Children and families will have increased access to early years education and child-specific health and wellbeing services.
‘‘I’m very excited that families will be able to benefit from this type of initiative here in Heathcote.’’