A SUBIACO non-profit childcare centre for at-risk children could be forced to close under a State Government plan to end leases with childcare providers.
Subicare Child Care Centre, which leases premises from the Department of Local Government and Communities, will have to increase fees under the changes or risk closure.
The changes, which come into effect from June 2018, would affect services currently provided to more than 120 families at the centre.
Subicare director Lindsay Poggenpoel said the centre was established in the 1980s under a government provision to create affordable community-based childcare in Subiaco.
Ms Poggenpoel said the centre was in the process of meeting key decision-makers and stakeholders, but was concerned about the future of Subicare.
“It would likely mean Subicare would have to pay commercial rent and be responsible for all maintenance costs for the building,” she said.
“We are a not-for-profit providing an essential community service. This would impact all our families as we would have to significantly increase our fees to cover the increased operating costs.”
Community Services Minister Tony Simpson said it was not appropriate for the Government, as the childcare regulator, to also own or lease property where childcare services were offered.
“Evidence suggests that these arrangements do not result in savings being passed on to families in the form of lower fees and families are paying similar fees to centres which are not operating from properties managed by the Department,” he said.
“These changes will provide an equal playing field across all child care services.”
Ms Poggenpoel said the closure of the centre would remove community services and workplace participation, and would be in direct opposition to the findings of the committee for Perth’s ‘Filling the Pool’ study findings.
She said the centre wanted the Government to reverse the decision.
“In the worst-case scenario, we would have to make our staff redundant and force families to seek alternative arrangements,” she said.
“The City of Subiaco has been supportive, however they have indicated they are not interested in entering into a property management-lease agreement with Subicare.
“Subicare is approaching the State Government to request the decision be reversed. If this is not possible, we are requesting the State vest the land to the Subicare Association for continued operation of Subicare as a not-for-profit centre.”
The Government currently manages 33 properties across Perth which operate as childcare providers, all of which would be impacted under the changes.
Opposition community services spokeswoman Simone McGurk said Subicare was an important community hub for early childhood education and care.
“There is already a significant number of families on the waitlist for Subicare, how will this impact affordable childcare in the area for the people currently enrolled there and those waiting to enrol,” he said.
“Hundreds of families rely on these community services and this change puts their future in doubt.”