The efforts of a network within the York community culminated in the opening on March 7, of a multi-purpose facility for families with children  0-5 years of age.

Known as the Childhood Services Hub, the facility is in the old York Bowling Club vacated at the end of 2012 and renovated for use by the Early Years Network.
Discussions about a hub were a result of the old York fire station which housed the York Toy Library and Family Playgroup being declared unfit for use.  An added incentive was York's poor showing in the Australian Early Developmental Index (AEDI) which measures early childhood development.

Project co-ordinator, Meg Boyle, said, "The toy library and playgroup had discussions with the Noongar Playgroup  to see if they wanted to join us at a new site. "With their agreement we had discussions with the Shire and settled on the old bowling clubhouse as a suitable venue. "The Shire has been very supportive with contributions to capital works, subsidising running costs and assisting with organisational issues," she said.

"The Shire along with many volunteers helped make the building safe and suitable for young children.  "This included moving a large patio, installing a sandpit, boarding up low windows, moving sheds  and equipment, laying paving and so on," Meg said.

"At this point the Playgroup has taken on the lease of the building and running it.  "Decisions have been made in conjunction with the newly formed York Early Years Network which has representatives from providers of services for children aged 0-5 years in York including child care, school, child health nurse, government agencies and the original groups. "We hope that the mother's group run by the child health nurse will start operating from the hub in the next month.  "The Breastfeeding Association also hopes to run meetings at the hub every two months," she said .

"Our intention is to develop a business plan to clarify how we want to develop and improve the facility over the coming years. "We also need to work out how to finance its operations and are currently seeking grants to build our vision. "Now is an opportune time as there is funding available, the need is apparent and there is a big group of enthusiastic parents willing to be part of the project," Meg said.

Shire president Cr Matthew Reid, said the facility was an exciting development providing services and facilities for families and ideally  located close to the school and recreation facilities. It shows what partnerships within a community can achieve, he said.

There will be a Sundowner starting 4.00pm on Friday, April 4 to celebrate the opening of the hub and thank those who have helped with the project. "All York families with children aged 0-5 years and all volunteers are welcome to join us for nibbles, sausage sizzle and children's entertainment," Meg said.

The new building is currently used by the Noongar Playgroup on Tuesdays 10.00am - 12.00pm; Playgroup, Fridays 9.00-11am and Toy Library fortnightly, Tuesday 9am -10am and Saturday 9.30am-11.00am.

Lindsay McNeill

BELOW: The new playground at the old York Bowling Club revamped for the York Childhood Services Hub.