Childcare crisis in Maylands

MAYLANDS has a childcare crisis, with dozens of families unable to find anywhere to book in their kids.

The critical shortage has forced Bayswater council to take the unusual step of helping find premises. 

In June Maylands Peninsula Primary School principle Paul Andrijich and school board chair Peter Klinger wrote to Bayswater council seeking help.

“Our school opened with 280 students [in 2004] but, as a result of a rise in infill housing and multi-storey developments in the local area, our enrolments have steadily increased. Our current student population sits at 670 students,” they wrote.

The school has needed three after-school care providers to handle the numbers, but Helping Hands closed its Maylands’ service in 2019, leaving many of the school’s families struggling to find alternatives.

“The lack of [out of hours school care] options in the Maylands area has been a source of continued concern and frustration for our school community and has increasingly become an agenda topic at MPPS school leadership, P&C and school board level,” the letter said. 

They’ve implored the council to help find a new space, suggesting either the Gibbney Reserve Pavilion or for a patch of land at the school’s border to be given over for a childcare provider to build on. 

Pavilion

The school would prefer to use the pavilion so a provider can move in for the 2022 school year, and so the kids don’t lose any more play space from giving up a new building.

Cr Elli Petersen-Pik has now got up a successful motion that the council “assist the MPPS in finding a suitable location” adjacent to the school, and to look into the pavilion option.

The pavilion option will require some negotiation as it’s currently inhabited by Football West, which has a lease until January 2024. Most of their operations have since been moved offsite and it’s mostly used for storage now. 

At the July 27 council meeting councillors Steven Ostajewskyj and Michelle Sutherland queried whether they should get involved given their tight resources and noting childcare centres are privately operated. 

Cr Sutherland said the council should sit down with state and federal governments to get them to pitch in more for childcare and other community resources as facilities get increasingly hammered by swelling populations. 

But Cr Petersen-Pik said the motion was “about supporting our community. People do not have enough care providers for their kids. We all want parents to go and work, this is the message that we get constantly: parents, mums, everyone go to work, but somebody needs to also look after the kids.

“We do get involved with those kind of issues, local government actually deals with lots of different issues.”

Council staff will investigate potential locations and whether Football West was keen to end the lease early, given it’s about to move its operations to the new State Football Centre in Queens Park in 2022. A report goes back to councillors in November.

by DAVID BELL

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