Weeks of clean up ahead for closed Queenstown preschool

by Lauren Pattemore - Sep 25, 2023

Dozens of Queenstown families may be without childcare for more than a month as BestStart Queenstown works to repair its waterlogged property, hit hard by last week's flooding.

BestStart deputy chief executive Fiona Hughes says there has been “significant damage to the interior and exterior” of the centre but the team is working quickly to restore the site, starting the clean-up job the day after the floods.

The caregivers of the 70 children enrolled at the centre located on Hamilton Road, not too far from the impacted Reavers Lane, are now desperately searching for alternative care.

Crux understands caregivers have been told in an email the ECE may be out of action for up to six weeks, although BestStart has declined to answer Crux questions on timeframes.

Ms Hughes says the business has been able to offer limited spaces to some families at its Hanley’s Farm centre, but these are only available for a “very short time”.

“This is because these spaces are allocated to children already enrolled at Hanley’s Farm who are due to join the centre in the coming days,” Ms Hughes says.

Ms Hughes says they are working closely with the Ministry of Education and the community on the option of setting up a temporary premises in the interim for families.

One parent who contacted Crux says they work 8am until 5pm and having no daycare will "take a massive toll".

They have concerns about the financial implications of the unexpected closure and are aware of parents with children enrolled at the centre who are now looking for nannies to tide them over.

They say BestStart has been helpful over the past few days and is “doing everything they can to find replacement care”.

Their child has been temporarily relocated to the Hanley’s Farm centre, but that involves the hassle of a longer commute.

BestStart Queenstown suffered 'significant damage' inside and out during last week's rainstorm.

“This is going to take a massive toll on our lives and financial situation for the next six weeks,” the parent says.

They want to see the Queenstown Lakes District Council working to support the centre and the impacted families.

It is a sentiment echoed by another impacted parent who has also contacted Crux.

They say while the council has provided updates on closures of local mountain biking tracks and reduced services at the pool (related to the ongoing cryptosporidium outbreak) it's been radio silence on the ECE closure.

It is their view the closure will have a "massive impact" on working parents that rely on the BestStart centre for child care.

Read more: Queenstown's vacated Playcentre unavailable for flooded BestStart

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