“Our aim is to ensure childcare services now on offer will continue to be available to RAAF families at Williamtown and to other families in the Port Stephens area.
“We will do this by operating the centre under the St Nicholas Early Education banner from January 2019.”
The Diocese is in discussion with the RAAF at Williamtown and Mission Australia to transition children currently enrolled at the childcare centre across to what will become St Nicholas Raymond Terrace in January 2019.
“We are also in negotiation with Michelle Curtin from Williamtown Preschool to extend the lease of the pre-school by 10 months,” he said.
To ensure continuity of childcare services, the Diocese is also exploring with Mission Australia the possibility of transferring employees who are currently working at the existing early education facility to St Nicholas.
“Our aim is to enable RAAF families - who are now using the childcare services at Raymond Terrace – to continue to enjoy childcare services once the facility is open in January 2019,” Sean said.
St Nicholas Early Education is already taking applications for the Raymond Terrace centre ahead of the January opening.
This will bring to six the number of early education centres that St Nicholas is operating in the Hunter Region. The other five are located at Cardiff, Lochinvar, Singleton, Newcastle West and Chisholm.
The Diocese is planning to expand the total number of centres under the St Nicholas brand to 20 within five years. In just over six months since March, it has opened three new centres – Cardiff, Chisholm and Lochinvar.
“We plan to open six more in the next two years at an estimated cost of around $15 million,” Sean Scanlon said.
“The Catholic Development Fund will provide the funding for these new early education centres,” he added.
Among those to be opened in the next two years in the Port Stephens area will be one at Medowie where the Diocese is aiming to build a new school – the Catherine McAuley Catholic College – and open it in 2020.
The $26 million development application for this new school – which comprises the college, a primary school and a new St Nicholas early education centre – has been submitted to the Port Stephens Council.