A community program, unique to Western Australia, is undergoing an $8.5 million expansion to provide extra quality developmental places for four-year-old children.
Family and Community Development Minister Eric Ripper today announced the construction of an extra 24 multi-purpose family centres over the next three years. The facilities would cater for an extra 2,400 four-year-old children.
Mr Ripper said Family Centres provided developmentally-appropriate programs for children in the year they turned four, plus a range of other services for parents and families. They were a venue for activities for specific local communities, ranging from community meetings and parenting classes, to children's services.
The Minister said high-need locations in which new family centre facilities would be constructed included the general areas of Quinns Rock, East Heathridge, Ocean Reef, Padbury, Westfield, Spearwood, Jandakot, Mount Hawthorn, Alexander Heights, Greenwood, Canning Vale, Hedland.
A further 12 family centres would be provided in yet to be determined locations; three in country regions, three in the east metropolitan area, three in the south metropolitan region and three in Perth's northern suburbs.
Mr Ripper said a total of 40 family centres, representing capital works expenditure of about $14 million, would be operating across the State by early next year, and 64 would be operating by the end of 1995.
The expansion was on top of the extra 4,730 child care places to be provided across the State during the next four years, under the Commonwealth/State child care agreement.
"This mix of early childhood services demonstrates the Government's commitment to meeting the diverse needs of parents in different modern families," Mr Ripper said.
"As detailed in the Social Advantage package, and re-enforced in the State Budget, this Government is committed to maximising the support for children in their vital early developing years.
"The Department for Community Development will increase the number of places provided for four-year-olds from the start of the next school year and by mid-1993 there will be places for more than 4,000 children."
Mr Ripper said the Government provided a range of facilities for four-year-olds, through family centres, community kindergartens/pre-schools (including more than 80 community pre-schools and 28 Aboriginal pre-schools), more than 100 play groups and a range of child care options including long day care, family day care and occasional care.
The State Budget allocated a total of $5.2 million to continue the running of existing family centres, to start work on new ones, to provide increased child care facilities, and to ensure that four-year-olds have places in appropriate programs.
"The Social Advantage package confirmed the Government's commitment to supporting families and children by providing practical help through quality child care," Mr Ripper said.
"Family centres, developed by the Labor Government, have proved very successful in providing a community focus, often in new suburbs and country areas, while providing a broad range of support and practical assistance to parents, families and children."