THE joy and laughter of children at play provided a fitting backdrop to Minya Porlar Creche’s community farewell last month, with the Murray Bridge service ceasing operation in mid-December.
Imperial Football Club hosted an afternoon of fun, games and even a petting zoo, as creche families and staff, both past and present, came together to reminisce on almost 22 years of service.
ac.care announced in September 2022 that despite working to secure the long-term future of the creche for many years, its ongoing operation had proven unfeasible.
The centre was serving around 18 families at the time its closure was announced with the agency working to support their transition into other childcare services.
The decision impacted five regular staff and additional casual employees, whose contribution and connection to the community was highlighted at the farewell event.
In a touching tribute, local resident Gloria Ebsworth spoke of her 14-year connection to the creche, which helped care and support three of her children.
“To ac.care, thank you for running a beautiful program for our families,” Ms Ebsworth said.
“The staff have been amazing,” she added.
“I want to say thank you for caring for our kids throughout the years and loving them, giving them a safe space.”
“You will be truly missed by the community.”
A ceremonial cake cutting was carried out by ac.care child care services director Meri Daniel, who has provided over 20 years of service to the agency.
Mr Maddocks said despite the creche being a relatively small service, it had provided the Murray Bridge community with a sense of family and support.
“We are immensely proud of the achievements of the creche over the past two decades of service to the Murray Bridge community, especially the dedicated staff and management who have provided local opportunities for families to access childcare, with a special focus on connection to Ngarrindjeri culture,” Mr Maddocks said.
The centre modelled best practice in Aboriginal-specific child care through opportunities for children to experience local language, a nutrition program, natural play environments, links with other community based programs and cultural experiences focused on the Ngarrindjeri nation on which the creche operated.
Explaining the “enormously challenging” decision to wind down the service, Mr Maddocks said the building on Gail Crescent was unable to meet new Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority Safety and Quality standards announced in early 2022 due to deficits relating to indoor spaces, sleeping spaces, bathrooms and changing facilities.
Challenges recruiting qualified staff in a competitive environment also contributed to the closure, as well as the growth of alternative childcare services in the community, which had reduced the need for the service.