Emma Pritchard |
There was plenty of excitement in her voice when Manager of Clarence Childhood Services Association Cristie Harris spoke to Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis about the future.
Next year, Grafton will open its first preschool in over two decades, creating permanent and part-time employment for at least six staff members and providing daily care for 20 children.
Set to open in July, The Clarence Community Preschool will be located at 166 Turf Street, directly opposite the Clarence Family Day Care’s headquarters with renovations scheduled to commence in late January.
The development is being made possible by a $431,000 investment by the NSW Government through its $7.5 million Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program, which aims to increase the availability of preschool places in high demand areas throughout the state.
The property which currently occupies the site was purchased for $280,000 by Clarence Family Day Care in 2018 after Ms Harris was approached by staff members who pointed out the unique opportunity sitting across the street from them following an increase in demand for childcare spaces.
Describing the opening of the new preschool as an exciting time for the local community to look forward to, Ms Harris and her fellow staff members have been working hard and diligently to provide more options for families with children.
“We were lucky enough to purchase the property and the additional funding is allowing us to renovate it and transform it into a preschool,” she said.
“By providing more childcare spaces, other businesses throughout Grafton will benefit too.
“More staff will be able to attend work because their children will be educated and well cared for in the new preschool and we’ll be working with local tradespeople during the renovations.”
Ms Harris said new ramps will be built to improve access to the property while playing equipment, solar panels and a veggie garden will also be added for the children to provide a sustainable environment.
Inside, the rooms will be opened up to create larger spaces and new, child-friendly facilities will be added.
“It will still look like a house from the outside and we want it to be very welcoming, like you’re coming into a comfortable home environment,” she said.
“We’ve had a local architect work with us to do the plans which have been approved by Clarence Valley Council and we’re really looking forward to opening it to the community next year.”
Ms Harris also thanked Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis for his support of the new preschool.
Mr Gulaptis said the NSW Government is committed to increasing access to early childhood education for families across the state by equipping more children with the social, cognitive and emotional skills that set them up for future learning.
“Ms Harris came to me back in 2018 about a proposal for a new preschool in Grafton to meet community demand and I encouraged her to submit an application under the Start Strong Grants program,” he said.
“I’m thrilled their application has been successful and it means 20 new preschool places will be created providing more options for local families and giving children the best possible start to their learning journey.”