Wydinia ELC FAQs
These FAQs have been developed in consultation with Colac Otway Shire (COS) and relate to the closure of the Early Learning Centre only (ELC long day care). Wydinia Kindergarten, which operates 3 and 4-year-old kindergarten at the same site, will remain open.
- Why is Wydinia Early Learning Centre (ELC) closing?
The difficult decision to close Wydinia ELC is not one that has been made lightly and comes after a comprehensive review of BCYF’s Early Years services. Wydinia ELC is currently the only long day care service operated by BCYF. Wydinia ELC is a very small long day care provider, offering only 18 places per day in comparison to other much larger services in the Colac community.
As a very small service, Wydinia ELC is limited in the hours of operation and inclusions (such as meals and nappies) that can be offered, making it difficult to compete with the service delivered by larger operators.
In 2020 the Victorian Governments Early Years Reform introduced subsidised three-year-old kindergarten in Colac to provide two years of kindergarten in the years before school, to all families.
Kindergarten and long day care services are highly regulated by government.
Kindergarten is State Government funded, while long day care is funded by the Federal Government. This requires management and leadership to be across two streams of funding, compliance and governance. Streamlining the delivery of services will concentrate on the core business of kindergartens, operating under one tier of government and one set of funding guidelines.
A core component of BCYF’s Early Years management is the delivery of high quality education and care programs via 3 and 4-year-old kindergarten programs. BCYF currently operates seven stand-alone kindergartens across Colac and Geelong.
As BCYF’s intention is to focus on the delivery of kindergarten programs in the future, we recognise we need to adapt our service delivery to make it more focused and less complex, to ensure we can better support children in Colac to access to a quality kindergarten program.
- What is the timeline for the closure?
Wydinia ELC will continue operating as normal until 21 December 2021. This will enable all families to access their current care arrangements for the remainder of the calendar year and support a smooth transition into kindergarten, school or another service in 2022.
- How will families be supported to access long day care with alternate providers if required?
Children who turn three prior to 30 April are eligible to attend 3-year-old kindergarten at Wydinia Kindergarten and the long day kindergarten program may meet the needs of these families.
BCYF is notifying families of this change now to allow families sufficient time to find an alternative education and care place if required in 2022 and recommends families put their name down at other long day care services or family day care as soon as possible.
Families can visit the Colac Otway Shire website for information on childcare and family day care.
For the small number of families affected our aim is to support those families to transition smoothly to a new provider of their choice. We are working closely with providers and COS to ensure there is a smooth transition of children.
BCYF is happy to support families in completing the application process at other long day care or family day care services. Please contact BCYF on 5231 4740 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you require assistance.
- What other child care services are available in Colac?
There are a number of child care providers in Colac, including three large long day care centres and a number of family day care providers.
- Do the other long day care services have vacancies in 2022?
Please contact the providers on the list attached for further information on vacancies and the process for enrolling.
- Will eligible ELC children be assured of a place at Wydinia kindergarten in 2022?
The capacity of our Wydinia Kindergarten will increase by 6 places in 2022 following the closure of the ELC. In addition to Wydinia Kindergarten, BCYF also manages Colac East Kindergarten and Winifred Nance Kindergarten. Families are encouraged to register for kindergarten as soon as possible by completing the enrolment form on our website.
- What will the kindergarten groups look like in 2022?
It is important that kindergarten groups meet the needs of the community. BCYF will survey Wydinia families providing the opportunity to have input into the structure of kindergarten groups in 2022. It is anticipated that there will be at least one group offering 2 x 7.5 hours to help meet the needs of families who require long days of education and care.
Wydinia Kindergarten is planning to offer long day kindergarten groups in 2022. Eligible kindergarten children can access 15 hours, which will be split across two long days of 7.5 hours.
The proposed 2022 timetable is attached.
- Will BCYF give priority to those in child care who need the long days and/or specific days?
Kindergarten enrolment is prioritised based on the State Government priority of access and local priority criteria which are contained in BCYF’s Enrolment and Orientation policy.
Existing Wydinia families of eligible 3 and 4-year-old children, will be allocated places in the 2022 Kindergarten program according to this policy. ELC families not yet accessing kindergarten will need to complete the registration process outlined on our website. BCYF is available to support families in this process.
- What are the benefits of two years of kindergarten before school?
Research shows that quality play-based learning is a powerful way to support children’s learning and development. The benefits last into the school years and beyond.
Evidence also shows that two years are better than one when it comes to early learning. Taking part in a quality kindergarten program at an earlier age leads to positive effects on child development.
Read more about three-year-old kindergarten here:
- What support is being provided to staff at Wydinia Early Learning Centre and the kindergarten team?
BCYF recognises and appreciates the commitment and dedication of the Early Learning Centre educators. The closure of the service is in no way a reflection on the standard of care, educational program or professional practice of the educators.
BCYF is undertaking a consultation process with impacted staff and their representatives, including how this change might affect them and measures BCYF is putting in place to mitigate or reduce adverse effects of this change.
BCYF recognises that this change will have a significant effect on ELC staff members and the Wydinia Kindergarten team, and we are committed to supporting them through this process.
In addition to implementing measures mitigating or reducing the impact of this change, staff will continue to be supported internally by Early Years Management leadership and the People & Culture team. External support is available to staff through BCYF’s Employee Assistance Program.
- Is BCYF closing the ELC due to COVID-19?
The decision to close the ELC has been made following a strategic review of BCYF’s Early Years’ services. As the only Early Learning Centre within the BCYF Early Years platform, BCYF has decided to focus exclusively on the delivery of kindergarten programs.
In line with advice from the Victorian Government, Wydinia Kindergarten and ELC has, for the most part, continued to operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to support families with education and care for children in the Colac community.