Johnstone TAFE & Community Children’s Centre going ahead in leaps in bounds

Centre Director, Kellie O’Connor, and staff with children who attend the Johnstone TAFE & Community Children’s Centre.

AFTER struggling to keep their doors open in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnstone TAFE & Community Children’s Centre is now thriving with numbers at full capacity and lots of positive improvements. 

During COVID-19, the centre was successful in securing three COVID grants, which assisted in the upgrade of facilities with a new sandpit, gardens, tables and chairs, staff bathroom amenities, shelving, and shade cloths. 

Centre Director, Kellie O’Connor, said the centre always supports local businesses. 

“Jim’s Maintenance built the sandpit, Babinda Pallet Man constructed the mud kitchen, Innisfail Kitchen & Cabinets undertook the new bathroom, and Col’s Vinyl installed the shade cloths.”

The centre’s outside facilities and equipment are being upgraded and new children’s toys are always being purchased. 

Their next project is to concrete an area for a car/bike track with streets and stop and go signs. 

Throughout COVID, it was one of a few centres that continued to take on TAFE, Mi-Haven, Good Counsel College, and Innisfail State College students for compulsory placement hours to complete their Certificate III in Early Childhood Education.

After losing staff members due to COVID-19, the centre has rebuilt, with four new employees, including a former Year 12 student from Good Counsel College, who has completed her certificate and started in early 2021.

Staff are always training and upgrading their certificates, with one currently studying for a Diploma of Early Childhood Education, whilst another has completed their Diploma.

Johnstone TAFE & Community Children’s Centre, located within the grounds of Innisfail State College on Flying Fish Point Road, has been operating for 31 years and is a not-for-profit organisation.

The long day care centre caters for children from birth to five years and operates Mondays to Fridays from 7.30am – 5.30pm and is now thriving at full capacity with twenty-nine children registered and twenty-one attending each day. 

Mondays and Thursdays are their busiest days, with many of the parents of the children attending TAFE. Tuesday’s roster is also full, with lots of infants.

It has a large play area incorporating activities for all ages, with a focus on keeping families and siblings together, and each week there is a different and personalised program which incorporates interests, themes, and real-life events into the children’s lives.

The centre is not funded by the Kindergarten Program, but instead it relies on the payments made by parents and the Child Care Subsidy.

A committee made up of parents are responsible for financial decisions and fundraising, while Kellie O’Connor’s role as Director is ensuring that the daily operation of the centre is in accordance with the Early Years’ Learning Framework.

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