From January to June 2019, we trialed an expanded casual and occasional care service. The trial aimed to provide a better service for children, more flexibility for families and greater value to the community.
The trial was based on feedback we received from families about the occasional care service offered at our Yarra Leisure centres and the casual care services being offered from multiple locations. The 90 minute occasional care sessions were not meeting the needs of most families in our community and, despite extensive promotion, less than half of the available places were being filled on a regular basis.
We introduced longer, more flexible sessions at purpose-built childcare facilities across Yarra. The longer sessions still enable families to access the gym or pool, but also provide opportunities for shopping, appointments, respite or even study.
Following the trial and evaluation report, where we consulted extensively with current leisure and child care users, a decision was made to continue to invest in more flexible casual and occasional care options, transitioning away from occasional care at our leisure centres.
What happens next?
Our occasional care services at Fitzroy Pool and Richmond Recreation Centre will continue to operate until 20 December 2019.
We understand that the closure of the occasional care service at our leisure centers will have an impact on regular users of the service. We will be working with all affected families to explore alternative care options.
We are encouraging all affected families to consider our casual care and occasional care services at Connie Benn Centre in Fitzroy. These sessions operate from purpose-built centres designed for the supervision, education and care of children.
We will also continue to explore further options of short term child care in our purpose built integrated facilities.
What other care options do I have?
We offer casual and occasional care at children’s centres across Yarra that are specifically designed for the supervision, education and care of children.
Connie Benn Early Learning Centre will continue to offer four-hour occasional care sessions
- Monday to Friday: 8.30am to 12.30pm
- Monday and Wednesday: 1.00pm to 5pm
Five-hour and full day casual care sessions are available at:
- Connie Benn Early Learning Centre in Fitzroy
- Gold Street Children’s Centre in Collingwood
- Keele Street Children's Centre in Collingwood
- North Carlton Children’s Centre in Carlton North
- Yarraberg Children’s Centre in Richmond
All five-hour casual sessions run from 8.30am to 1.30pm and full day sessions are up to 10.5 hours.
Find out more information about our casual and occasional care, including how to enrol.
What decision was made by council?
At the conclusion of the trial, the evaluation and recommended actions were presented at the council meeting held on Tuesday 24 September.
The key findings of the evaluation showed that the service and the facilities were not meeting the needs of the community. This was demonstrated by the low utilisation figures and the fact that the majority of families that used the service did not become repeat customers.
The following recommendations were adopted by council:
- Continuing to offer casual care in our child care centres as a more flexible model of care for families.
- Transitioning families from the occasional care services at our leisure centres, in preparation of the services ceasing operation on December 20th.
- Repurposing the Occasional Care spaces in the Leisure Services for additional health and fitness services.
- Exploring further models of short term care in purpose-built facilities.
Will I have to pay more?
Occasional care and casual care are different child care options, and families will need to decide which option suits them best.
For our casual care options, the out-of-pocket cost of care will depend on your individual family circumstances. Most families are eligible for the Child Care Subsidy from the Commonwealth Government and that lowers the overall cost of the service to individual families.
In some instances, families on higher incomes may pay more for casual care, but for those on lower incomes the cost per hour may be cheaper. Find out if you’re eligible for a Commonwealth Government childcare subsidy.
If you need any further information, or extra support transitioning to new services, please contact us on 9205 5555 or at email@example.com.