Tranby College has begun construction on a new childcare centre and plans to offer 150 placements to keep up with the growing demand for more early childhood facilities in the Baldivis area. The new centre will offer 100 daycare places for babies and children and another 50 for outside of school hours care. College principal Peggy Mahy said the major reason behind the construction of the new daycare centre was to support more families. “The current centre is about 50 per cent smaller (than the new one will be), so more children and babies in particular will be accommodated,” Ms Mahy said. The centre will continue to be operated independently by the school in accordance with legislation. Ms Mahy said the new facility would match the college’s “commitment to personalised learning, (and) profound care”. “It will provide an amazing workspace for staff who will be able to work and learn professionally in the space and offer a purpose-built home for before and after care programs,” she said. The centre is expected to be completed in early 2024 and Ms Mahy said it would offer a gold standard in early education and day care. Its plan comes as the State Government battles to address the rapidly increasing demand for early childhood education staff across WA. In November 2022, the Federal and State governments launched the ‘Free in ‘23’ initiative, which offers more than 100 courses at reduced fees or fee-free at TAFE and selected providers. It is intended to re-skill and upskill workers for sectors experiencing skills shortages, including early childhood education. The McGowan Government has also announced the second round of its attraction and retention packages for regional childcare workers program. The program provides up to $250,000 to help local governments attract more childcare workers, cheaper accommodation, help with relocation costs and development opportunities for existing staff. A State Government spokesperson said the government understood the importance and benefits of good early childhood education. “We can’t do that without quality and dedicated early childhood educators and staff,” the spokesperson said. “This initiative (Free in ‘23) is backed by industry and is designed to address barriers to participation in training and the workforce, and link people to employers and further training opportunities.” They said almost 13,000 people had enrolled in Free in ‘23 courses, with more than 1430 enrolling in the Certificate III Early Childhood Education and Care.