WYCHEPROOF families are struggling with insecure childcare, after services were cancelled at the last minute for the fourth time this year.
But the town's childcare provider says cancellations are the result of a broader shortage of childcare workers, which may get worse when compulsory three-year-old kinder is introduced.
Laura Bish arrived at Wycheproof's YMCA Early Years last Wednesday at about 8.30am, to find just one worker on site, who asked parents to wait around.
Twenty minutes later the staff member was told YMCA would not be able to run service that day.
Ms Bish said it was stressful for parents, disappointing for children to cancel services. She said Wycheproof families were missing out on education because they were rural.
Service provider YMCA Ballarat chief executive Brooke LeSueur said staff illness meant that the organisation could not find enough staff to legally run its program on the day in question.
Mrs LeSueur said it was the fourth time services at Wycheproof's YMCA had been cancelled this year because of staff shortages.
She said a lack of qualified and quality staff across the industry was causing problems throughout the state, especially in rural and regional areas.
Mrs LeSueur said the introduction of three-year-old kinder for all Victorian children would put even more pressure on early years educators recruiting staff.
In Wycheproof, Ms Bish said cancellations were stressful for working parents - who had to find last minute childcare - and disappointing for children, who loved kinder.
Ms Bish said parents feared that frequently missing kinder would mean their children were not school ready. She said Wycheproof children were missing out where their metropolitan and regional counterparts would not.
"Just because we're rural our kids, we don't want them to miss out on having that social interaction," Ms Bish said.
"Getting school ready and that. That's probably what our main [concern is]."
Wycheproof's council area, the Buloke Shire, will be one of the first six Victorian council areas to receive funded three-year-old kinder. The program will begin in 2020 in the shire.
A Department of Education and Training spokesperson said the government was offering support packages of up to $9000 to encourage early childhood teachers to move to regional areas.
The department will offer packages of up to $25,000 to encourage more people to pursue careers in early childhood education or to upskill.
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