In 1995 the Department of Education (NSW) was looking for an experienced operator to build and operate a quality Child Care Centre at Frenchs Forest Public School. Erin and Laurence Adney were selected to build this service.
Frenchs Forest Children’s Centre was licensed for 56 children a day for children aged 2 to 6 years of age. The service operated within the hours of 7.30am to 6pm.
We had three rooms at this service:
- Dolphins – 2-3 year old (16 children a day),
- Teddies – 3-4 year old (20 children a day),
- Zebras – 4-5 year old (20 children a day).
The centre was always accredited at the HIGH QUALITY and our team of staff were always professional and welcoming. Frenchs Forest Children Centre was known in the area as the centre to be at. The service was always having students from TAFE or University attending practicum.
Frenchs Forest Children’s Centre would have had to have been the best equipped centre in the area. The centre was filled within a month and never had any vacancies as when one child left, there was always a child ready to start the next day.
At the same time as the Frenchs Forest tender, Allambie Heights School put out a similar tender. Unsure of whether we would win the first tender, but we desperately wanted to own our own centre, we also tendered for Allambie.
We were given an indication that we had won the tender, but were still waiting for formal acceptance from the Dept of Education, so we asked work colleagues of ours to put their names on the tender and if the tender at Frenchs Forest was successful, we would take our names of the Allambie Centres tender. We did this because we had not run a centre before and were not 100% sure of the financial implications or the impact of being owners and did not want to run centre that could not produce High Quality Care. At this stage we felt we had to just choose one centre and pass the other on.
The tender required the plans of the centre to be created, cash flow exercises and policies and procedures to be in place. We tendered all of this for Allambie. We also attended with our colleagues at the interview panel.
When we were given the formal notification of winning both tenders about 3 weeks apart, we handed the Allambie Centre over to our colleagues, but continued with close ties to the centre.
After about six months of running Frenchs Forest Long Day Care, our waiting list was so large that we had parents begging us to take them into our service. We felt we were ready to start another service.
The demand was for a centre that took 0-2 year olds as well as preschoolers. In late 1996, an old church building was for sale in Narraweena. We went to the auction and bought the building.
We again starting planning and building a centre for children aged 6weeks to 6 years. The centre was built and had a small, homely and very welcoming environment. It was a small nurturing centre without losing the educational side of a kindergarten.
We had three rooms in this 43 place centre.
- Babies – 0-2 (about 10 babies a day),
- 2 year old Room (about 13 children per day),
- Pre-school Room – 3 to 6 year old (about 20 children a day).
The centre was filled within the month and again known as the centre to be in. We also had Tafe and University students lining up for a Baby placement. At this point Manly Council had asked the TAFE for suggestions of services to visit, as they were planning a new service as well. We were chosen as one of the preferred centres and had council delegates look at our service and asked us many questions as to how we achieved a high standard of care. The waiting list just grew and grew at this centre with parents coming from Manly, Harbord, and the Frenchs Forest area.
Due to the demand at Oceana, we decided to increase our service in the Frenchs Forest area, as very few services offered placements for the under 3’s.
We asked Frenchs Forest School if we could rent another block of rooms, next to our original centre for Babies. They were very happy to do this and we again began building a service suited to babies.
Frenchs Forest Under 3’s contained three rooms:
- Babies – under 1 generally non-walkers,
- Babies – 1 to 2 years of age, but physically walking,
- Two year old room.
The centre was licensed for 32 children.
This centre always achieved high quality accreditation status and also tagged as the centre to be at.
In 1997, two more tenders come up for Child Care Centres in both Mimosa Public School and in Beacon Hill Public Schools. We had actually bought the land for Oceana and felt we were financially at our limit. We had the schools ring us and ask us to tender for their centres. So we decided to do tender for the school tenders, but decided to sell Oceana to pay for the building of the other services. We did this because the other Centres were to be leaseholds and financially a better choice.
In 1998, we won the Mimosa Public School Tender and built a beautiful centre for 58 children a day. This centre was built in a forest regeneration deemed area, so we had added concerns in building not to destroy or damage the environment, as well as not to disturb the visual look of the environment.
There are three rooms at Mimosa:
- Joeys – 2 to 3 year old (18 children per day),
- Bilbies – 3 to 4 year old (20 children a day),
- Kookaburras – 4 to 6 year old (20 children a day).
Mimosa Children’s Centre was the only centre we have built that was not full in the first month. We were 85% occupied, but because we opened in August most parent already had placement for the year. The centre became fully occupied in the following February. Mimosa has always achieved High Quality in Accreditation standards.
Mimosa is currently fully occupied and has a waiting list.
Our staff at Mimosa includes employees who have worked in our centre’s for over 10 years. Our staff ratios at Mimosa, exceeds the standards required by regulations.
Our Director at Mimosa is Katie Norman and Erin Adney is the Authorised Supervisor at present.
As already stated both tenders for Mimosa and Beacon Hill came out basically together. We tendered for both as we didn’t know if we would win either and surprisingly we won both.
We had an excellent team all keen to help and we built Beacon Hill Children’s Centre straight after opening Mimosa.
Beacon Hill Children’s Centre catered for 43 children a day for children aged between 2 and 6 years.
The centre had two rooms:
- Possums Room – 2 to 3 year old (18 children),
- Wombats Room – 3 to 6 years (25 children).
The centre was opened in January 1999 and was full in the following month.
Beacon Hill Children’s Centre also received High Quality accreditation status every time.