The last few months have been trying for many of our families, our educators and businesses in general. With large numbers of families withdrawing their children at the beginning of the Pandemic, as a business, we had to make many difficult decisions. Our educators entered into agreements with their hours reduced as a result of decreased enrolments to allow us to survive. With the government’s free childcare initiative, we receive 50% of our regular government support and no parent fees. This when combined with the JobKeeper subsidy and a negotiated rental relief from our landlords, we are surviving. The free childcare initiative is in place until June 28.
Most of our families have now returned or are planning to return to the educational setting very shortly. At the same time, we have been taking many casual bookings in supporting families returning to work and a surprisingly high number of new enrolments.
In looking to the future and continuing to support our families, we have had a strategic review of our staffing needs and to plan a return to normal operations. Our recruitment plan is a bit like the government pandemic plan, it has three stages.
Firstly, Ohana is pleased to announce the appointment of three new trainee educators studying their Certificate III in Childcare for its Coffs Harbour centres. Simply, we needed extra bodies within the centres to support our educators and children and to also recognise that we need to grow the sector with a known shortfall of educators. We have worked closely with ETC in securing these new trainee educators. These placements will occur this week and next.
The second part of the strategy is returning full hours for all our supportive educators and the return of our casual educators. This will happen as more families return to care, and as our new enrolments continue to build.
The third part of the strategy is a recruitment drive for more permanent part-time staff. These new roles will involve them working to support the needs of each centre at the beginning and at the end of each day. This phase will also include a recruitment drive for our new Woolgoolga centre where we are expecting to employ an additional 12 educators and staff.
We thank all our stakeholders. From our committed and supportive staff, our landlords, suppliers and our bank, we have survived this stage of the Pandemic. We look forward to facilitating positive news on the employment front as our enrolments and centres grow.