We want to play our part in ensuring that high quality Early Childhood Education and Care is accessible for all children in the ACT. Therefore, we have made the decision that for the remainder of 2020, our children’s services fees will not increase.
2020 has been a tough year. We began with bushfires and choking smoke that caused devastation across our region. And as we began recovering, COVID-19 struck.
I am amazed at the way the community has pulled together during this time of crisis and proud to say that Communities@Work was here for Canberra throughout the fires and smoke and we are here for Canberra during this global pandemic.
As Canberra’s largest not-for-profit community organisation, we deliver essential services for Canberrans, providing a range of high-quality education and care services and community services right across the ACT and Capital region.
“But we do more than provide services. We are part of the social and economic fabric of the Canberra community. We think community is the thread that connects us all. Community is the support we give each other in good times and in bad. Community is the care we feel for each other. Community is where we find comfort in difficult times. Community is where we belong.”
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And with over 43 years working and living in the Canberra region, Communities@Work is part of the Canberra community. As an employer of over 600 Canberrans, we are one of the largest private employers in the ACT. Our people live, work, study and play in the Canberra region. And our people have been on the frontline delivering essential services to children, families, clients and our community throughout the fire and smoke emergency and the COVID-19 pandemic. The loyalty and professionalism our employees and volunteers have displayed in very challenging times has been simply incredible.
One of Communities@Work’s core values is sustainability. Balancing our ongoing viability with the needs of our community is an ongoing priority. It is vital that we ensure we can continue to support our community through this crisis, and that we are here for you into the future. I think it’s important to highlight that every dollar we earn is invested back into the Canberra region, including for the provision of much-needed services for the vulnerable and disadvantaged.
Right now, we are planning for an uncertain future. We know that rising unemployment and a slowing economy will be hitting many people hard. We anticipate growing demand for our support services, especially our community pantry, which provides food and essentials to Canberrans in need. We are investing now to ensure we can support as many people as possible.
Communities@Work employees with hampers from Canberra Relief Network
All our services have been impacted by this crisis, including our children’s services. In March, some of our early education and care services saw declines in attendance of as much as 90%. At the time, our fear was that we may need to downsize or close some of our services, which would also mean job losses. In the worst-case scenario, Communities@Work may have had to close our doors completely. Thankfully, we avoided this scenario, with no job losses to date. Many in our community have not been so lucky and that is why it is vitally important that we are ready for what comes next.
We believe that all children deserve the best start in life. Early Childhood Education and Care develops resilience, well-being and a foundation for lifelong learning and enhancing employment and economic prospects for children when they become adults. The early years are critical for children’s development and now more than ever, it is important for families to have certainty.
“For that reason, we made the decision to not increase fees for our Early Education and Care Centres and Out of School Hours Care service for the remainder of 2020. This means that there will be no fee increase in these services.
In addition, to support our self employed Family Day Care and In-Home Care educators, there will be no fee increase to the service levy educators pay Communities@Work to assist our educators in their business operations.”
We hope this decision can provide some certainty for families in uncertain times.
It’s also important that you know Communities@Work is doing our very best to support you, your children, families, educators and our community. If you ever need help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We know these are tough times and we are here for you. If we can’t help you directly, we will help you find the support you need.
From all of us at Communities@Work, thank you. Thank you for your understanding, your patience, and your support. In challenging times like this, our community is strongest when we support each other.
Communities@Work is Canberra’s largest community organisation and provider of children’s services, with almost 4500 children enrolled throughout its 12 child care centres (early childhood education and care), 17 before and after school care services (out of school hours care), 11 school holiday programs, and 85 family day care educators.