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Early learning centre in Orange to open at just a third of maximum capacity

July 27, 2022

Stock image.

By Peter Holmes

When it is operating at maximum capacity, a new early learning and daycare centre will have up to 155 children attending daily in nine rooms.

Sam Stevenson is the centre manager and nominated supervisor at Rise Early Learning behind Bloomfield Medical Centre on Forest Road.

She told The Orange News Examiner that they are waiting on final clearance from the NSW Department of Education before opening the doors to the public.

“We are very close to opening - the centre is complete and finished. We had a visit from the Department of Education last Friday and we’re just waiting for their approval, then we're good to go.”

Construction of the centre. Supplied.

The news will arrive via email, and if the licence is granted, a certificate to be displayed in the foyer will follow.

A purpose-built long daycare and preschool for children aged from six weeks to six years, the centre will operate from 6:30am to 6:30pm.

Stevenson acknowledged the huge demand for childcare in the city, but said that as a new service it would conduct a “staggered opening” over a period of months.

The site is behind Bloomfield Medical Centre. Supplied.

“A big thing for us is child well-being, so we … won't open all of our nine rooms at once.”

Once final approval is given the centre will open three rooms - one each for the 0-2, 2-3 and 3-5-year-old age brackets.

“At the moment those rooms are at capacity,” she said. “We will wait until those children are settled into our space and then we will start opening our other rooms.”

The multi-staged opening will also allow the centre to continue recruiting at what is a challenging time.

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“There is a nationwide shortage of early childhood educators - both teachers and educators with a Diploma Cert III (in Early Childhood Education and Care),” Stevenson said.

“Just like everyone else in the industry it has been quite difficult to find educators.

"We've got enough staff to open our three rooms, but we [are] recruiting. Recruitment will be an ongoing thing … but we are lucky to have an amazing array of educators who have experience in the sector, and also educators who are wanting to start their careers, so we've got a few trainees on board as well.”

Stevenson and a colleague in the leadership team, Samara, have been working for three months to ready the centre for opening.

She said Step4 was contracted to supply and build furniture.

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“It was a big truckload of things, but they brought a team out and we didn't have to build any flat packs or anything like that.

“We placed all the chairs and tables and furniture, and all of our soft furnishings - couches, mats, rugs - we purchased ourselves.”

A chef, cook and two administrators have been hired, and Stevenson said there are currently no “non child-facing” roles available.

As is common in the industry, Rise Early Learning will charge late fees to parents or carers who collect children after 6:30pm. This is to ensure licensing regulations are met, and staff can leave on time.

Stevenson said that in her 10 years of work in early childhood learning in Orange it was rare for children to be collected after closing.

Early stages. Supplied.

She advised parents looking to secure a spot at any childcare facility in the city to join a waitlist.

“I would suggest parents do that when they're well in advance of returning to work after having a baby, because the demand is there for nursery, under twos.

"People are welcome to go on the waitlist [here] as anything can happen, families move out of regions, so our waitlist can move around.”

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