Child care service in the red
MORE than 200 Northern Rivers families will be left in the lurch if the Ballina Out Of School Hours Care service does not get more funds by the end of this term.
The Ballina District Community Services Association, which runs the child care service, yesterday revealed it was more than $90,000 in the red at the close of last financial year.
The service, which has been operating since the late 1980s, provides supervised care for primary school children before and after school and in holidays.
Lennox Head parent Wendy Brown, whose two sons use the service twice a week, was shocked by the news.
“It will be difficult, especially for families at Lennox, to find alternatives and transport,” she said.
Advanced child care worker Ann Jellick said it would be a huge disappointment.
“It would have a huge impact on families who rely on the service because they have to go to work and can't always be at home to look after their children,” she said.
BDCSA executive officer Dianna Howell said the out-of-school care service had been carrying deficits for the past eight years. Its budget deficit for the 2007/2008 financial year was $93,000.
“Government funding is very limited and the main source of income is parental fees,” Ms Howell said. “BDCSA receives Federal Government fee rebates which subsidise direct fee costs for most families.
“Fees have been increased to the maximum level we believe our families can afford.”
Ms Howell said an approach by State, Federal and local governments, as well as the community, was needed to work out how to keep the service running.
“We are remorseful that closure of such essential services will mean increased stress and anxiety for our families,” she said.
Page MP Janelle Saffin is so concerned she has convened a meeting today at the Ballina Council Chambers to discuss the matter.
Email BDCSA at firstname.lastname@example.org