A new 'bush preschool' will deliver an additional 30 high quality childcare places for families in the Inverell area.
On Friday Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall announced a $390,500 state government investment towards the new Inverell District Family Services (IDFS) facility.
IDFS operated a bush preschool in 2020 and 2021, two days a week at Ross Hill Reserve, through its Northern Roads Activity Van.
From late next year, the bush preschool will have a permanent presence with the brand new 30-place facility to be constructed. The total cost of the project is $540,500.
Inverell District Family Services Nicky Lavender welcomed the opportunity to address part of the local preschool shortage.
"We see the addition of a new Bush Preschool as a means of bridging some of the gaps that currently exists for families to access quality early education," Ms Lavender said.
"With this grant approved IDFS now has a clear path to delivering this new premises by October 2023.
"We have commenced the development application process with Inverell Shire Council and are now looking to engage local builders and trades in preparation of DA approval."
IDFS currently employ approximately 85 staff across nine early childhood education and care services, and this new centre will increase their workforce by another eight staff, Ms Lavender said.
"We know the benefit of children engaging in play and learning in the outdoor environment and so are pleased the benefit of this cherished program will be extended to more families," she said.
Mr Marshall said the new funding would take IDFS' bush preschool pilot off road and give it a permanent home.
"The bush preschool concept is a child's dream, encouraging the development of gross motor skills through interaction with the great outdoors," Mr Marshall said.
"Designs for the building are complete and show a modern structure with timber framing and batten screens.
"Keeping with the principles of bush preschool, the facility will have a large outdoor play space with sandpits, nature play area, gardens and yarning circle."
He said the demand for early education and care spaces at Inverell was significantly impacting families and the local economy, as parents battle to find care which would allow them to return to work.
"IDFS is leading the way when it comes to establishing new childcare facilities, and on behalf of the Inverell community, I thank the organisation for its leadership in this space," he said.
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