Island Bay childcare centre forced to close

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 06:40 17/08/2012
Laird Cameron and Sarah-Jane Paine with their children
ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ
DEVASTATED: Laird Cameron and Sarah-Jane Paine with their children Piata, nearly 3, and Angus, 7 months outside the Aubert Childcare Centre, Island Bay.

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An Island Bay childcare centre is being forced to close because the religious order that owns it cannot afford to replace its asbestos roof.

The roof of Wellington's Aubert Childcare Centre, owned by the Sisters of Compassion, was sealed as soon as the asbestos was discovered a couple of months ago. Now the Order has been told a permanent replacement would cost up to $300,000.

Mother Aubert Home of Compassion Trust Board chairwoman Sister Margaret Anne Mills said it had agonised over the decision to close the centre, but it needed to focus its funds on its core mission of helping the frail aged, the sick, the poor and the disadvantaged.

Aubert Childcare Centre board chairman Kelvin Wong said he and the sisters had failed to find a suitable replacement property in the suburb, meaning about 60 families and 22 staff will probably be without a centre by the end of the year.

Parents Sarah-Jane Paine and Laird Cameron were devastated about the closure of the centre, where daughter Piata, 2, attends and 7-month-old son Angus was due to join.

"It's sad - sad for the children because Piata has been [at Aubert] since the end of 2010, and Angus was looking to start in October," Ms Paine said.

Parents chose the centre for its high reputation, and they had a close relationship with the teachers, she said.

Mr Cameron said everyone was "gutted" and he felt for the staff who would also lose their jobs.

Sister Margaret Anne said an increase in property insurance, unfavourable earthquake evaluation reports and compliance with new building standards meant it was not viable to have the roof replaced.

“We know the centre closure will be a difficult time for staff, the children and their families, and we are supporting the Aubert Childcare board as much as possible.”

The centre was opened in 1908 as a home for orphaned and disadvantaged children and had been an early childcare centre since 1995.

A meeting was being held last night to discuss the future of the building.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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