Future Management of Bannockburn Children's Service
Following the Ordinary Meeting of Council this evening (Tuesday 26 November, 2019), Council will seek an alternate provider for the long day care service at Bannockburn Children’s Service (BCS).
At the meeting, Council authorised the CEO to call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) to lease part of Bannockburn Family Service Centre for the purpose of providing long day care services. Council currently manages the long day care service at this location.
BCS staff and client families were informed of Council’s decision following the meeting and will be supported through the transition by Council management.
Under the Local Government Act 1989 and Council’s enterprise agreement, Council is required to implement ‘Best Value Principles’ when delivering its services. During the transition process, Council will continue to maintain and deliver a quality long day care service at BCS.
The EOI and public submission process will be undertaken in early 2020 and the transfer of service will take place no earlier than 1 July 2020. While the exact dates of the transition are not known, Council will keep the BCS staff, client families and community informed as the process progresses.
The Bannockburn Family Service Centre building will continue to be owned and operated by Golden Plains Shire Council. The child care rooms will be leased to the new provider, while the sessional kindergarten, offices and consultation rooms will continue to be managed by Golden Plains Shire Council. Council’s other sessional kindergarten services are not affected by this decision and will continue to operate as usual under Council management.
Tonight’s decision follows Council’s request for, and consideration of, a comprehensive operational analysis, the Best Value Review of BCS, and a consultation process with BCS staff and client families. From 9 October to 6 November 2019, Council undertook a consultation to explore future management options of the long day care service at BCS, in accordance with Golden Plains Shire Council Enterprise Agreement No.8 (EA) Clause 7.11 Introduction of change. There were 22 responses received during the consultation process; 19 were from current service users, which represents just over 15% of all service users; and all responses did not support a transfer of service.
The Best Value Review of the delivery of long day care services at BCS reported on the current service delivery model, quality and costs standards, and an analysis of market conditions. The Review supported the notion that an external child care provider is well placed to deliver a high quality service to local families.
As part of the Best Value Review, Council conducted an external Expression of Interest (EOI) process to determine if there were other providers (commercial or not-for-profit) with an interest and capability to deliver the long day care services at a better standard or level of service. At its Ordinary Meeting, Council noted the outcome of this EOI process, and resolved to call instead for EOI’s to lease part of Bannockburn Family Service Centre for the purpose of providing long day care services.
From the Council Report presented at the Ordinary Meeting on Tuesday 26 November, 2019:
“Golden Plains Shire Council commenced the operation of the Bannockburn Children’s Service, long day care, at the Bannockburn Family Service Centre in 2014. At that time there were no other long day child care options for families in the Shire and Council would be meeting this need to support workforce participation. Since that time, two other private child care providers have entered the Bannockburn child care market, resulting in more choices for families. The new services have also resulted in an oversupply of places based on current demand and reduced utilisation rates at the Council operated service.
In the course of Council considering the Best Value Review on several occasions, it is clear that there is not a need for Council to continue to manage the long day care services undertaken at the Bannockburn Children’s Service. When Council established the Bannockburn Children’s Service, long day care, it was the first and only long day care centre in Bannockburn, however with two private centres coming into the market in 2017 and 2019, there is no longer the need for Council to operate this service. It is acknowledged that Bannockburn and surrounds has a high population growth which is reflected in these new services opening in the past few years, and the market supports the understanding that future new private or not-for-profit services will likely open to serve additional families.
Another key focus of research and discussion was the financial viability of Council’s management of the Bannockburn Children’s Service (BCS), in the past, present and future. In past years, Council Budgets had forecast the service making a profit that were not realised. This situation occurred despite work to improve the financial operation of the service, the significant reduction of costs and increased efficiencies at BCS, and an increase in childcare fees paid by client families.
The Best Value Review has demonstrated that a private or not-for-profit service would be best-placed to run a quality service in the changing childcare market. Therefore, there is a great opportunity to build a successful local business that employs local people, and in turn, best serves the children and families of BCS.”