Library changes to childcare role

Alexander ScottNorth West Telegraph
Ruby Allen at Port Hedland Library.
Camera IconRuby Allen at Port Hedland Library. Credit: Sophia Constantine.

A library in Port Hedland is set to be converted into a daycare centre in an attempt to ease the chronic shortage of childcare places in the Pilbara mining town.

A Town of Port Hedland report in February this year showed there were 373 children on wait lists and there were only 44 places in total for infants aged up to two years.

It said 155 children were competing for four vacant spots on wait lists across the five existing childcare centres in the town.

Planning and assessment is now being carried out after the library closed last Friday.

ToPH Commissioner Fred Riebeling said the cost of converting the library space to a childcare centre had yet to be determined.

Mr Riebeling said the project was a priority for the town, because of the high demand for childcare places among working families.

“The community have spoken, and we have listened: action is being taken to ease the pressure on existing local childcare providers by converting the Port Hedland Library for childcare services,” he said.

Mr Riebeling said the venue was deemed the most appropriate because of its existing structure and centrality in Port Hedland.

“Our goal to become a liveable town for families is dependent on facilitating the provision of high quality, affordable child care,” he said.

A director of the Rose Nowers Early Learning Centre in South Hedland, Cynthia Dornelles, said the allocation of additional childcare services at the library building would slightly alleviate the demand for care.

“As a whole community, childcare shortages affect all of us and as such we all should diligently lobby for investment and ongoing, consistent actions,” she said.

Port Hedland mother Tenielle Dunne has a three-year-old and a one-year-old and has been on the wait list at the Rose Nowers centre for a year.

“I was meant to be going back to work next week, but I don’t have care for my little girl,” she said.

Mrs Dunne said it would be good for there to be more options available at childcare centres, including alternating childcare days with other parents.

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