Mums can book a place for kids

Sam JonesNorth West Telegraph
One Tree Len Taplin manager Claire Bennet in front of the former Hedland Library space.
Camera IconOne Tree Len Taplin manager Claire Bennet in front of the former Hedland Library space. Credit: Sam Jones

Childcare services in Port Hedland have long been an issue of contention, with wait lists longer than iron ore trains, but major progress was made recently in a bid to reduce chronic shortage.

The Town of Port Hedland approved day-care organisation One Tree Len Taplin’s takeover of the former Hedland Library at an ordinary meeting last Wednesday, which is set to boost its capacity from 66 to 95 places.

First raised in an ordinary council meeting in February, the move is part of a $1 million strategy to tackle childcare issues in the town, which also involved a refurbishment and reopening of a former daycare centre using existing North Regional TAFE facilities.

The facility officially ceased operating as a library in August.

The move was in response to a Town of Port Hedland report, which highlighted there were 373 children on wait lists and, at the time, only 44 places for infants aged up to two, with 155 kids competing for four vacant spots across five existing centres.

Town of Port Hedland commissioner Fred Reibeling said the much-needed expansion would hopefully provide some relief for local families who had long advocated for more childcare places in Hedland. “The latest development follows on from the August 2019 council decision to transition the Port Hedland Library into childcare service delivery space, and the October 2018 decision for council to take a more active role in an area not traditionally local government’s jurisdiction,” he said.

“I look forward to updating the community in due course regarding the key dates for when the service is operational.”

OTLT manager Claire Bennet said the expansion had been a long time coming for the organisation, which looked forward to expanding its capabilities.

“One Tree Community Services are very pleased with the extension of childcare space into the Port Hedland Library,” Ms Bennet said.

“We are working with the Education and Care Regulatory Unit to have the space open to families in early 2020.”

The projected cost of the library refurbishment is $273,641 and would be paid for through the council’s budget.

Local grassroots impact organisation Hedland Collective will fund the later TAFE refurbishment, costing a projected $739,892.

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