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Funds ease care bottleneck

Treehouse, centre director Mary O'Neill, in the Park Early Learning Centre.

Treehouse, centre director Mary O'Neill, in the Park Early Learning Centre. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

An inner north Canberra childcare centre is the latest facility  to get the green light for an upgrade and capacity boost as the ACT government pumps millions into the sector to meet demand.

More than $350,000 will be spent on an upgrade to the Treehouse in the Park Early Learning Centre in Turner.

The upgrade, which is expected to be finished by the first term of 2015, will give children a smoother pathway into kindergarten without having to transfer to another centre. The Treehouse in the Park Early Learning Centre, which is operated by the Northside Community Service, will double the number of preschool places it provides.

Northside Community Service childcare services executive director Jenny Mobbs said there had been a desire to extend the facility for years.

"The demand for places is enormous, particularly where we are – close to Civic and the university,'' Ms Mobbs said.

"We have waiting lists to 2016. I think the waiting lists across Canberra for toddlers and infants are extensive. They certainly are on the northside.''

The ACT government is providing the funds for the extension as part of a program to boost childcare places across the Territory.

Treehouse in the Park Early Learning Centre director Mary O'Neill said the limited spaces in the preschool room had created a bottleneck.

She said they had 15 toddler places and just 11 preschool places. The extension to the centre would double the number of preschool places to 22.

The ACT government has allocated $11.9million to a dozen childcare centres over the past two financial years. This will lead to an increase of 235 places once all upgrades have been completed.

An ACT Education and Training Directorate spokesman said the number of centre-based childcare places across Canberra had more than doubled since 2001.

There were about 9500 places offered for children preschool age and under in centre-based education and care services with another 3400 places in ACT government preschools.

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