Childcare centre upgrade begins

MICHELE ONG
Last updated 05:00 09/07/2014

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An inner city childcare facility is expanding its premises to cope with growing demand and long waiting lists.

YMCA Taranaki is enlarging its childcare centre to cater for 50 preschoolers, with 30 over-3s and 20 under-3s.

The organisation has been working towards the $575,000 renovation for four years.

It is presently licensed for 28 children, with 14 under-3s and 14 over-3s.

The upgraded centre will feature a dedicated baby area, a new kitchen and work area for staff, and a revamp of its two playgrounds.

Completion is expected by November.

Four offices will be demolished to make way for the new childcare centre, YMCA chief executive Linda Cox said.

"This is the first big project that we have got off the ground."

A growing waiting list, with an average of 20 children on it, meant something had to be done to cope with demand.

She said the YMCA had spent the last four years looking for alternative sites but none of it "came to fruition".

"At one point, we talked about going down to the old cemetery and that hasn't come off for various reasons."

The YMCA has been operating out of its council-owned Liardet St site for 60 years. Cox said it was initially unsure how much time it had left on the land.

This prompted the YMCA to look for "potential pieces of land" for a new childcare centre, she said.

Cox said the New Plymouth District Council knew the situation "and said yes, the best thing was to develop this site," Cox said.

She believes the childcare's central city location and its "brilliant staff"' were behind its popularity.

"The other thing is, I think people make a decision they would like to be part of a community organisation," Cox said. "People may say there are plenty of childcare centres and yes there are, but we have a waitlist. We have maintained a waitlist for the past four years."

Cox said the renovations were a team effort. The YMCA had worked closely with Community House, where the Citizens Advice Bureau is based, to find a resolution as its carparks were affected by the expansion.

"It's a collaborative development," Cox said.

YMCA early childhood manager Claire Jamieson said the expansion of the childcare centre allows it to accommodate demand from families working in town.

"We have some people that come, that work close to town and we'd be able to pick up more if needed," Jamieson said.

Meanwhile, in April, the YMCA received Ministry of Education approval for a new childcare centre in Waitara west, expected to open by the end of this year.

It will cater for 30 preschoolers, with half of its roll children under 3.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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