LOCAL childcare services run by the City of Greater Bendigo cost upwards of $500,000 a year and are now under review to assess if council will continue to manage the centres or transfer children to other providers.
Council community wellbeing director Pauline Gordon did not rule out council transferring ownership of the centres, but said extensive community consultation was underway to help council make a decision.
Council operates three early learning centres in Bendigo, providing a service for 416 children.
This costs on average $1255 per child per year, in addition to the fees paid by families.
It is predicted that long day care and occasional day care will result in a combined loss of $621,000 for council in 2013.
Standards for Victorian childcare centres now fall under the National Quality Framework (NQF), introduced in January this year, meaning more requirements must be met.
This includes increased staff training and Universal Access, requiring children complete 15-hours a week of education by a university-trained teacher.
Ms Gordon said the city was seeking evidence and input from a number of stakeholders to ensure it was best placed to deliver services to all children, following these changes.
“Council must consider the cost versus benefit of directly delivering child care services and consider other alternatives if appropriate,” Ms Gordon said.
A background paper states: “The majority of council’s early childhood education and care budget is spent in direct service delivery of three long day care services and one occasional care service.”
“Council’s capacity to provide other support to the broader non-council sector is therefore limited.”
The NQF means the role for local governments in regards to early childhood education is changing.
“In some instances, councils have transferred their child care services to other providers with the necessary experience and expertise,” the paper states.
Ms Gordon said the survey results from the review would help offer recommendations to council before it makes a decision on the matter.
“Council is committed to supporting improved outcomes for the children of Greater Bendigo and continuing to ensure that all children have the opportunity to grow into happy, healthy and active citizens,” she said.
An anonymous resident contacted the Bendigo Advertiser last month, highlighting concerns that childcare centres could be sold without warning to private ownership.