Nillumbik Shire hopes to grow numbers at its Eltham Playhouse occasional childcare centre, which will also be upgraded to include a sleep zone aimed at children aged two and under.
This follows the centre receiving funding from the Federal Government to be part of its new Child Care Subsidy Program.
Under its Jobs for Families package, the Government will now offer its ongoing child care subsidy for families attending Eltham Playhouse.
The Government is also providing approximately $100,000 over three years in sustainability funding and approximately $75,000 in capital funding to support program enhancements and to extend the Eltham facility in Pitt Street.
The additional capital funding will allow Eltham Playhouse to upgrade its facility to include a sleep zone, increasing its attractiveness for children aged two years and under.
Nillumbik operates two council-owned playhouses, in Eltham and at Panton Hill, for 40 weeks a year, offering four and five-hour sessions.
Each playhouse can accommodate 20 children per session and currently has vacancies.
Panton Hill already receives the child care subsidy because of its location and a lack of child care alternatives in that area.
The new subsidy arrangements means Eltham joins Panton Hill in being in line with funding models for child care centres across the country.
Session fees at Eltham range from $60 per four-hour session to $75 per five-hour session. Subject to Centrelink eligibility and thresholds, the subsidy offered may reduce session fees to under $40, dependent on the level of combined family income.
Councillor Jane Ashton, Chair of the Community Services portfolio, said Council was seeking to increase utilisation rates of the two playhouses from current levels of 50-60 per cent capacity to around 80 per cent.
“This funding package from the Federal Government will enable Council’s two playhouses to increase their reach and attractiveness.
“Our playhouses have small numbers and are able to provide family grouping sessions, meaning that all the children of all ages can interact and socialise rather than being separated into age groups.”