Friday is D-day for Telegraph Point with their preschool set to close.
The Telegraph Point Children’s Centre has about 20 children enrolled and also caters as an out of school hours (OOSH) and vacation care centre.
Parent and Telegraph Point resident Casey Mitchell said it is the only centre in town and is greatly utilised by the community.
Ms Mitchell said parents have tried to contact the Department of Education but have not been given a reason as to why the centre has to close.
“This is not reassuring to a community that needs a viable childcare option and will soon be required to travel at least 15 to 20 minutes to the next town for care,” she said.
In December 2016 the current business owner Jennifer Worthing did not renew a lease with the Department of Education for the land on which the childcare business resides. She said she has decided not to continue with another five year lease.
Ms Mitchell said the intention was to have the department issue a new tender and lease of land to either a new provider or have a community association continue care.
“There was at no point the intention to have no care for our children,” she said.
Ms Worthing wants to sell the building to a successful tenderer.
Ms Worthing said the Department of Education told her they haven’t decided if they will tender for a childcare centre at all.
“I’m still hoping that the community will be able to get the tender process happening,” she said.
Ms Worthing said she was told on June 6 she had to remove the building and cease operating on June 23.
Ms Worthing said the tender process isn’t reliant on whether she keeps the building or not.
“They are tendering for the land they are not tendering for the building,” she said.
A spokesperson from the Department of Education said the department is not in a position to transfer the lease because the approved service provider’s lease expires on June 23.
“Any new preschool service on the school site would need to be tendered, as required, under government procurement guidelines,” he said.
“The department is not able to re-tender the service until the current provider has confirmed their intentions with regard to the building, which is their property.”
The Local Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams said the Department of Education is currently working with parents to look at preschool options for their children.
“My priority is to ensure that all children receive a quality early childhood education in the year before they start formal school,” she said.
Shadow Minister for early childhood education Kate Washington met with Telegraph Point families on Wednesday.
The area now faces losing their only childcare service due to minister and her department, failing to act, she said.
“The community of Telegraph Point has been failed by the minister and the department. The community is facing the closure of their only childcare centre due to departmental stuff-ups and a minister failing to step in,” Ms Washington said.
“The Minister should be advocating for childcare services, not watching them close on her watch.
“As a result, families will struggle to juggle their work and family commitments while children miss out on vital preschool time.”