Lismore Council’s Gingerbread House childcare centre on Uralba St, Lismore.
Lismore Council’s Gingerbread House childcare centre on Uralba St, Lismore. Marc Stapelberg

Parent fears on childcare

ANY reduction in the quality of occasional day care services provided by Gingerbread House in Lismore would have a big effect on parents such as Pascal Scherrer and Charmaine Williams.

Lismore City Council, which runs the facility, is considering leasing it to an external child care provider.

The council's executive director for sustainable development, Brent McAlister, said a review of the operations of Gingerbread House recognised that it provided a highly valued service as the only occasional care centre in town.

"We know that the service improves the quality of life for many families in the local community wanting occasional care and the council is committed to continued delivery of that service," he said in a media statement released on Friday.

"We also recognise that childcare is not a key area of core council business and therefore we are investigating whether another provider could deliver the same level of service more efficiently."

With no extended family living in Lismore, Mr Scherrer and Ms Williams use Gingerbread House two or three times a week for their son Caleb, 2 1/2 .

They want assurances that the quality of service will be maintained.

"The council wants to save money," Ms Williams said.

"It appears as if it is out to wash its hands of it.

"We want to ensure that the community values and social benefits of the service to Lismore are properly weighed up against potential dollar savings.

"We have concerns about the council's process.

"A review of the values and importance of the service was conducted but those who use it were not consulted."

In a letter sent last Friday, the council emphasised to families and users of Gingerbread House that it was not intending to close the centre or discontinue the service.

"If the operator did change, through the lease arrangement the council will ensure Gingerbread House remains a community facility and occasional care will continue to be provided," the letter said.

However, Mr Scherrer and Ms Williams are expecting their sec- ond child in June.

They remain worried that if the operation is leased out that despite short-term assurances, the long-term future of occasional care in Lismore will be put at risk.

"We're urging anyone who has an opinion on this to contact one of the councillors," Ms Williams said.

An information session will be held at Gingerbread House in Uralba St on Thursday from 5pm where council staff will further explain the process and be available to answer questions.

If users of the facility can't attend they can write to the General Manager, Lismore City Council, PO Box 23A, Lismore 2480 or email council@lismore.nsw.gov.au



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