Nationwide workforce shortages forces change for childcare centres

Nation-wide workforce shortages in the education and care sectors have forced Glenorchy City Council to make changes to the operating hours of its Benjafield and Berriedale childcare centres.

Both centres will move to a Monday to Thursday operating model and will be closed Fridays effective Friday 2 September and each Friday thereafter until the 2022 Christmas closure period.

Parents with children enrolled on Fridays have been informed of the changes.

Council’s General Manager Tony McMullen said Council understood and recognised how difficult this decision would be for many families in the community.

“Unfortunately, ongoing, and critical nation-wide workforce shortages, compounded by ongoing COVID-19 impacts, have impacted the sustainability of our Child Care Connections education care services under its current 7.30am to 6pm five-day-a-week model.

“Families have had to adapt to unexpected closures due to simply not having the staff available to provide a service in the event of illness and this has placed all staff under additional pressure.

“This was not a situation anyone wanted to see, with the current situation simply not sustainable.”

Mr McMullen said, therefore, Council decided to operate the centres four days a week to ensure service delivery.

“This was an extremely difficult decision. We understand the impact this will have on the families who use these centres on Fridays.

“We apologise to those families, and assure them that our commitment to the health, safety and wellbeing of their children and the staff who care for them and is our top priority, which is why this decision was made.”

Mr McMullen said the change in opening times would affect about 70 families.

Mr McMullen also wanted to ensure that families and the community know that this decision is unrelated to and not pre-emptive of the current review of Council’s childcare service. 

“While there are limited places available on other days at our centres, we will work with affected families who need an alternate day of childcare and prioritise them for any places that are available,” he said.