Yangebup: parents caught off guard by out-of-school-hours care closure

Chontelle Sands. Picture: Martin Kennealey d470237
Chontelle Sands. Picture: Martin Kennealey d470237

PARENTS claim they were caught off guard when a Yangebup out-of-school-hours care service revealed it would close at the end of the month.

Parents were informed in late May that Helping Hands planned to close on June 30.

A spokesman told the Gazette the decision was forced, with attendances well below what was needed to make the service viable.

“The initial interest in the service indicated that the attendance numbers would support a service at (Yangebup Primary School),” he said.

“Helping Hands entered into a two-year partnership with the school with the hope that there could be enough support of the out of hours care program to make the program viable.

“The usage has been approximately 50 per cent of the required levels.”

Parent Lauren Tann said the decision was a real shame and could lead to frenzy as parents seek alternative options.

The mother of two works two days a week, dropping her daughter at Helping Hands early in the morning before taking her two-year-old to stay with family.

“I was annoyed at first, then you start worrying because there will be parents scrambling for other spots,” she said.

“It is a fantastic, flexible service for families.”

Yangebup Progress Association president Chontelle Sands said it was a blow and could impact on school enrolments.

“Unlike many traditional day care and before and after school providers, the centre provided a pay-as-you-go system, so parents didn’t have to pay to hold a spot if their kids don’t attend which provided great flexibility,” she said.

The Helping Hands spokesman argued the service had worked to promote itself through general marketing, brochures, advertising in the school newsletter and by attending school assemblies with an information stall.

But Ms Sands said if the community knew earlier the service was failing, it could have rallied behind it to make it work.

Parent Chris Newton said he would move his two children to a service in Munster.

“We loved the community feel the Helping Hands service had and like a lot of people we were unaware they were thinking of closing it,” he said.

Yangebup Primary School principal Richard Barr said there were options for parents.

“The service was promoted but is not viable due to insufficient numbers,” he said.

“There are alternative services available in the surrounding area and information was provided to parents and families regarding these services.”

The Yangebup Family Centre is considering if it can step in to fill the void.

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