Yass Valley parents are fed up with a lack of childcare places in town.
While some are prolonging a return to the workforce, others are considering enrolling their children into school prematurely. Many want a review into the chronic shortage.
A number of irate parents flooded the Tribune’s Facebook page with comments after reading recent coverage of the issue.
Kylie Baker said the shortages had been an issue for years.
“I had trouble and my eldest is now seven and in school. The issue [has] been brushed under the carpet for many years, [it] would be nice to see something done about it, however unlikely,” she wrote on the Tribune’s Facebook page.
Kimberly Hughes said she has had her daughter on a waiting list at two centres for two years and believes she is still no further ahead.
“Fortunately we were lucky enough to get a position in family day care when a new lady started up. We were nearly at a point where I had to give up my employment,” she said.
Sarah Michaels said it was particularly frustrating for those who did not have extended family living nearby.
“It's so frustrating… The lack of childcare facilities applies a huge constraint on those of us who don't have people to fall back on to help, if needed.”
She said she was hoping for two hours per week for her daughter to develop social interaction with peers of similar age.
”Social interaction and engagement is imperative for young children. I was seeking two hours a week, just so my daughter could interact with other children, as all of her cousins are back in Victoria, and I was outright refused.
“It's so frustrating, especially when I've returned to work, but can't go back to my proper, qualified pre-pregnancy job.
”I'd hate to see what next year will bring when I'm also back at university. And with a 'growing population', you think it'd be more accommodated.”
Sarah Michaels agreed. She could not get a place for her daughter during her own medical emergency last year.
“We get told by the staff, albeit no fault of their own, ‘don't you have family who can look after her?’. If we had family, do you think we'd be in desperate need of you? All of my family and friends are back home in Melbourne, they're not just a quick car ride. They'd love to help, and would in a heartbeat, but it's not logistically possible.”
Nicole Lobsey said she has had her son’s name registered at two centres since he was four months old. She has been told he won't get a spot until 2014.
“Should I have put his name down before he was conceived? In my naivety, being my first child, I thought I was being super organised putting his name down that early. Apparently not. [We] desperately need more spots available for under-twos.”
Kylie Baker agreed, saying she booked her daughter in at 15 weeks pregnant and was advised she needed to book in before conceiving. She felt the situation was exacerbated by poor pay and conditions for carers.
“Some of the constraints are it’s not a glamorous vocation, the pay is appalling and often it feels like it is a dumping ground for some kids.
“The parents that have their children in full-time care or close enough to it while they sit at home, also exacerbate the situation. They take places from parents who genuinely need/want to work.
“I wish I could come up with a solution… but perhaps with our new fresh councillors, mothers included, [we] may be able to prompt some form of solution.”
Kimberly Hughes said she felt she was being penalised for staying home with her children for the first two years instead of securing childcare straight away.
“We were fortunate that I was able to take two years maternity leave when I had my daughter so I was able to be with my children for their first few years, something that many parents these days don’t get the privilege of doing.
“But now I feel like we are being punished that I did stay at home with them because the centres tell me that I need to put them in as early as possible to ‘secure’ a spot!
“I know there are a lot of professionals that chose to either turn down or leave jobs within the Yass Valley as they simply cannot get childcare.
“I agree… there should be a review into those using places simply for selfish reasons and not as the intended purpose.”
Kim Gourlay was also ‘extremely frustrated’ at not being able to return to work because a childcare place was not available for her three-year-old.
“As I have an older child in school, I'm limited to work and care here in town. It's really disheartening and extremely frustrating.”