Port Lincoln mother of four Krystal Miller lives with debilitating Crohn’s disease and after-school-hours care has become essential for her family.
- More than 100 families will be left without after-school care in Port Lincoln
- Councils on Yorke Peninsula have intervened to help with the lack of care services
- Port Lincoln’s council said they could not help the service find a new space
However, the past six months have been a roller-coaster ride as BYK Kids after-school-hours care faced an uncertain future following the non-renewal of its lease.
Last week it closed its doors to more than 100 families after being unable to find new rental premises.
Ms Miller said the closure would have an impact on her life, and many other parents.
“I am immune-compromised and when I’m sick, it’s been so important to be able to have somewhere that I can trust with my kids,” Ms Miller said.
“So now that’s gone, I have no options anymore — it’s quite stressful.
BYK Kids was the only service offering after-school care and vacation care in the region.
But Ms Miller still counts herself lucky because her parents live in Port Lincoln, and while they both work, they do help.
“There are a lot of professional women and men here in Port Lincoln, who are not able to actually go back to work because there’s nowhere to put their kids,” Ms Miller said.
Program manager Cassandra Bilney held back tears on the final day of care after six years of helping Port Lincoln families.
“I don’t know what the solution is,” Ms Bilney said.
“I don’t know if the council could look at having something council owned but the lack of services is definitely a problem.”
Parents like Ms Miller want the Port Lincoln City Council to intervene to assist families in dire need of care for their children.
“I can’t comprehend how they could not step in to assist the only out-of-school support for care,” Ms Miller said.
Both the Copper Coast and the Barunga West regional councils have supported family childcare on the Yorke Peninsula.
Copper Coast Council’s CEO Russel Peate said the lack of childcare in his region had a flow-on economic effect on the community.
“If there’s a lack of childcare that’s an impact on businesses, organizations in being able to attract employees, and that affects the workforce, that affects your community that affects your business.”
The council worked with Kadina Childcare Incorporated to help find an affordable rental site.
“We’ve partnered with them and determined a site that’s crown land under our care and control, that’s been endorsed by council and we’re working towards a long-term lease,” Mr Peate said.
“We have been keen to partner with the childcare center in finding a location that’s suitable to them and to progress towards steps of having a much greater and larger centre.”
A survey in Moonta Bay also found 99.5 per cent of 214 people named childcare an issue in that area.
The council is in the process of looking to establish a childcare center there also.
Meanwhile, Barunga West Council provided grants of up to $2,000 for people encountering challenges trying to set up a family daycare.
“Council is willing to support those in our community with the ultimate goal of seeing them set up family daycare in their own home as early as next year,” a council statement read.
“The work involves securing up to $1.9 million of government funding to build a facility, and ensuring there is ongoing community and government support for its long-term viability.”
A Port Lincoln City Council spokesperson said they were aware of BYK Kids’ plight but did not have any facilities to assist.
“Council doesn’t have any fit-for-purpose facilities that would meet their needs at this time, however we understood that they had some strong options within the local community with more appropriate facilities.”
The spokesperson said childcare would likely be a focus in the Council’s Economic Development and Investment Attraction strategy, which was currently under development.
“There is some work being undertaken across the region to look at childcare options in smaller communities, and this will potentially ease demand on services in Port Lincoln also.”
Up until very recently, BYK Kids was the region’s only after-school-hours-care service, but St Joseph’s School recently announced it would open its own partnering with YMCA in coming months.