CHILDREN at Cooinda Kindergarten in Stawell will no longer be forced to use facilities that are in excess of forty years old, thanks to a grant announced by the State Government.
Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development, Wendy Lovell, travelled to Stawell last Friday with Liberal candidate for Ripon, Louise Staley, to advise the children and the Stawell and District Preschool Association committee, of its successful grant application for new state-of-the-art facilities at the kindergarten.
Ms Lovell said $10,000 in funding would be allocated towards a major upgrade of Cooinda's bathroom facilities, which have been in use since the 1970s.
A grant allocation of $6000 was also announced for an upgrade at the Marrang kindergarten.
"This is great news for Stawell families," Ms Lovell said.
"Their local kindergartens are among 643 Victorian preschools and children's centres able to upgrade their facilities and Information Technology systems, through the Napthine Government's latest $2.9 million funding round."
Ms Lovell said her government was very mindful that parents and families put a lot of time and energy into fundraising for facility upgrades.
"Small grants were previously allocated at certain times to assist these organisations," Ms Lovell said.
"We were finding in a lot of areas, these grants were really not stretching far enough in our kindergartens, so we decided to increase the size of the grants.
"Not only does that mean facilities can be replaced or upgraded, it also reduces the fundraising burden that is placed on the parents, teachers and committee members."
Liberal candidate for Ripon, Louise Staley, said these minor grants would help ensure the Stawell community can deliver the world class learning programs that children deserve.
"Victoria already leads the nation in early childhood education and care," Ms Staley said.
"By improving early years facilities and infrastructure, we are making Stawell and regional Victoria an even better place for families to raise their children."
Ms Staley said much of this investment would flow directly to families in rural and regional Victoria, enabling them to give their children the very best start in life.
Stawell and District Preschool Association president, Julie McClure, said the funding announcement was an enormous boost to parents, the committee and the children.
"Stawell and District Preschool expresses its appreciation to the State Government and to Minister Lovell, for making funds available for these two projects," Mrs McClure said.
"The kindergarten community will benefit greatly from a new bathroom at Cooinda Preschool and a new shade area at Marrang Preschool.
"As a not-for-profit community organisation, we are extremely grateful for the announcement today.
"Fundraising in the current economic climate is extremely difficult and these funds will go directly to projects that benefit the children from both centres. These assets will continue to benefits future families and children at these two centres."
Mrs McClure said at Cooinda, the facilities in the bathroom were in desperate need of replacing.
"The bathroom/toilet room for the children has remained as it is for more than 40 years, apart from regular painting of walls," she said.
"Taps, trough and toilets are all more than forty years old and need replacing.
"With the increased numbers of children attending our service on a daily basis through rotational group models to facilitate 15 hours of preschool, the toileting and hygiene areas of the preschool are no longer adequate."
Mrs McClure said the works that could now be undertaken thanks to the grant, would see the installation of additional children's toilets, installation of two hand basins and removal of the 40 year old trough.
The electric hand dryers will also be removed to make way for the installation of paper towel dispensers.
Other works will include installation of new moulded vinyl flooring for hygiene purposes, along with new splash backs and new water saving toilet cisterns.
The old hot water service will also be replaced, providing the children with access to warm water all year round.
The new shade sail at Marrang kindergarten will be installed as part of the Preschool Association's continued development of its outside play space.
It will replace the existing sail that was installed in 2000. The poles holding the existing sail have sunk into the ground, resulting in the sails being at a low height. They are now a safety risk of children climbing.
An entire new structure will be put in place, with sunken poles replaced and adequate footings put in place to prevent any future sinking.