A mobile playgroup which covers the Armidale region and beyond will continue to operate following recent changes to government funding under the new Jobs for Families Childcare Package.
Gubi Gabun Children’s Mobile Service has been operating mobile play sessions in rural and socially isolated communities across New England for 38 years.
“Our aim is to provide accessible structured early childhood sessions for birth to school age children and their carers at community venues,” said Gubi Gabun manager Susan Pancaldi.
“We currently have about 350 children attending our services from 199 families in the region. Our team of qualified early childhood educators provide educational play sessions at sixteen venues, including five around Armidale, on a fortnightly basis. Unfortunately, the central Armidale playgroup closed in April of this year after more than a decade at Armidale City Church due to a lack of support and competition from other mother's groups. However, we redeployed our resources to start up a group in Black Mountain.”
As well as providing an early education service the playgroup also gives isolated mums a chance to relax and catch up over a cuppa while their children are supervised.
“We bring everything with us to the venue so all the carers need to bring is themselves, the children and the children’s morning tea,” said Ms Pancaldi.
Earlier this year Gubi’s funding was under threat when it looked like it would need to move from the current Budget Based Funding Programme to Child Care Subsidy requiring it to provide a long day care service.
“The uniqueness of our service delivery would have been lost under those arrangements and we have since been informed that we will be looked after under an alternative funding structure that is yet to be decided,” Ms Pancaldi said.
“We have been given $5,000 dollars in addition to our annual programme funds to help with governance over the current transition period which ends in July 2018.”
The group recently held its annual general meeting in Armidale to elect a new executive committee with two Walcha residents at the helm: Nikki Davis as president and; Stef Cook, who was the secretary, will now be vice president. Guyra resident Ashley Brett will take on the position of secretary.
The playgroups are held fortnightly around Armidale from 10am to noon at the following locations:
Wollomombi on Tuesdays at Chandler School
Kentucky on Thursdays in Kentucky Memorial Hall
Uralla on Mondays at the Showground
Bundarra on Mondays at the School of Arts
Tingha on Wednesdays at the Sport and Recreation Club
Contact Susan Pancaldi on 0428 723120 for more information.