LOSING NUMBERS: Usually alive with the sound of laughter and chatter, the Lockyer Valley Early Education Centre has grown progressively quieter over the past few weeks.
LOSING NUMBERS: Usually alive with the sound of laughter and chatter, the Lockyer Valley Early Education Centre has grown progressively quieter over the past few weeks.

Staff hope free childcare offer will boost centre numbers

FOLLOWING the Federal Government’s announcement that childcare would be free for the children of essential workers, the team at Lockyer Valley Early Education Centre is hopeful for what next week will bring.

Usually alive with the sound of laughter and chatter, the Gatton childcare centre has grown progressively quieter over the past few weeks.

With only 17 children on-site, Lockyer Valley Early Education Centre is looking after just half the number of children than usual, according to centre director Tiani Strickland.

“We have lost about 50 per cent of our children at the centre from the coronavirus and from families losing their jobs,” Ms Strickland said.

The drop in numbers has led staff members to lose hours and income.

“It impacts on all the girls working here – we’re trying to keep it fair for everybody,” she said.

“It’s like a domino effect but we’re working as a team to try and spread the hours out.”

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For the remaining children at the centre, routine and normalcy sets the theme.

“They need routine and they get to see their friends and socialise,” Ms Strickland said.

“They have their group time, story time, singing songs.”

The importance of washing hands is emphasised throughout the day.

“It’s a big focus at the moment – staying healthy,” Ms Strickland said.

With childcare free as of Monday, the centre is focusing on getting children back through the doors.

“We are trying to work on getting people back to the centre and assuring them that we are very clean, we’re healthy and we’re wiping down surfaces three or four times a day,” she said.

“I’m (thinking) things are going to get better because I don’t try to dwell on negative thoughts – we’re just going to try to keep increasing our occupancy.”


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