NOAH’S Shoalhaven has received $1.4 million from the Restart Illawarra Fund, turning the organisation’s dream of expanding in a new location a reality.
“This news couldn’t be better”, Noah’s Ark chief executive officer Ginger O’Brien said.
“It means for the first time local families can access all our services in one place, making it more convenient for them and more comfortable for their children.”
Noah’s submission described its plan to move into the former TAFE building on the University of Wollongong Shoalhaven Campus.
With the funding approved, work is expected to begin on the new centre in April 2014, with doors to open in early 2015.
The new centre will become a one-stop-shop for families of children with higher support needs or a disability.
Noah’s Shoalhaven is spread across three different buildings in Nowra.
The proposal will combine all support services and administration at the one location.
“With more than 600 children using our services this year alone, we really needed a bigger state-of-the-art centre to keep up with the demand for high quality, evidenced-based services that local families want,” Ms O’Brien said.
“It also gives us the space we need for our mobile teams to work.”
Ms O’Brien said she and her team were looking forward to working closely with UOW’s Early Start team.
“This collaboration means better services for local families. The Early Start team leads the world in innovative early childhood focused thinking.”
After the funding announcement yesterday she said the parents were “very excited”.
“This will also allow us to look at school-aged services down the track.
“It will also prepare us for the NDIS,” she said.
The new centre will also house the new Kids Together Demonstration Childcare Centre and be the Shoalhaven base for the university’s Early Start Program, providing student training and research, as well as connecting early childhood services across the region.
“Kids Together supports children with a disability so that they can go to mainstream childcare with their peers. We want local childcare centres to be inclusive of all children and through training for staff and extra support for families we can make it happen,” Ms O’Brien said.
Noah’s Shoalhaven provides a range of early intervention services across the Shoalhaven, including playgroups, behaviour support services, targeted therapy, family group sessions and training for parents.
It is a not-for-profit, non-government, community owned organisation that has provided early intervention services to children across the Shoalhaven for over 32 years.