TWENTY additional childcare places per day will be made available at the Leeton Early Learning Centre as part of expansion plans.
The project, estimated to cost around $500,000, will see a new demountable classroom completed to ensure extra places are available by early 2023.
Leeton Shire Council approved the expansion recently, which is also set to see at least five new jobs created at the centre.
With demand at a huge level for childcare and early learning, mayor Tony Reneker said the expansion was critical.
"The levels of current demand and waiting lists for childcare, combined with the NSW population projections, indicate Leeton will continue to require greater numbers of childcare places over the next 20-plus years," he said.
"The waiting list for places at the LELC is greater than 100 children with the majority of the demand being in the zero-to-three years range."
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Leeton Early Learning Centre manager Kylie Knight said parents and the community had responded positively to the plans.
"People are really excited about, especially because we are targeting our younger age group," she said.
"Our wait list for those ages is huge, so they are pleased we are targeting the younger ones which need the spots."
Many businesses in Leeton shire have reported workforce shortages due to the lack of childcare options that are available, with many saying this was an impediment to continued growth of the local economy.
From a social perspective, councillor George Weston was also concerned parents of young children may miss opportunities to keep their skills up-to-date, which could make it difficult for them to get back into the workforce when it is viable for them to do so.
"Improving the availability of childcare places is a critical service to enable parents to return to work in a part-time or full-time capacity," he said.
The waiting list for places at the LELC is greater than 100 children with the majority of the demand being in the zero-to-three years range.- Mayor Tony Reneker
Council said it would continue to pursue any available grant funding opportunities, but if none are available it will fund the development through loan funding and repay the loan through the LELC fees earned.
Tenders for the demountable classroom and associated work are now out.
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