Mass shortage of OOSH places for children of Port Stephens

MP and Shadow Minister for Early Education Kate Washington meets with mother Emma Gordon at one of the few OOSH centres in Port Stephens.
MP and Shadow Minister for Early Education Kate Washington meets with mother Emma Gordon at one of the few OOSH centres in Port Stephens.

WORKING parents face an extra hurdle in Port Stephens when trying to make their working schedules fit in with school aged children requiring before and after school care.

James Kennedy Plumbing
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Across the whole of the Port Stephens area, over 6,000 children compete for just 396 OOSH (out of school hours) places.

In Medowie specifically, around 1,700 students compete for 144 approved before and after school care places.

This is approximately one OOSH place for every 12 students requiring care.

As the new school year begins, parents who have been unable to obtain care for their children are faced with the struggle of juggling work commitments whilst ensuring their children are safe before and after school.

With OOSH places in such high demand, and the fallout numbers of students who have missed out being so extreme, parents are being forced to reduce work hours, losing much needed income for their families.

Alternatively, parents are also seeking out alternative informal arrangements that are often unregulated and inherently risky.

MP and Shadow Minister for Early Education Kate Washington meets with mother Emma Gordon at one of the few OOSH centres in Port Stephens.
MP and Shadow Minister for Early Education Kate Washington meets with mother Emma Gordon at one of the few OOSH centres in Port Stephens.

In 2015, Mike Baird and NSW Government promised 45,000 new before and after school places by 2019, but the NSW Auditor General recently found a mere 5,993 new places have been created.

News Of The Area met with Shadow Minister for Early Education Kate Washington who said, “The grants offered by the Government to create additional OOSH places have been a complete failure, and the Baird Government have failed to deliver on their commitment.”

“Parents are being unfairly affected in all this; they are dealing with extra stresses over the safety and care of their children.”

Emma Gordon, Mother of a 2017 Wirreanda Kindergarten student, told News Of The Area, “There are just not adequate spaces available in Port Stephens for families.”

“I have managed to rally around friends to help me with care for my son on the days I missed out on a place, but I worry for the families who don’t that support network.”

By Rachael VAUGHAN

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