Little Jasmine Coleiro knows what it’s like to attend a school Mass, have lessons with the family educator and recite prayers – but is yet to step foot in a classroom.
The five-year-old is attending the first Catholic day care centre established in the Archdiocese of Sydney which offers affordable childcare in partnership with parishes and Catholic schools to achieve key educational milestones.
Designed to bridge the gap between pre-school and primary school, the centres offer affordable childcare for families battling cost of living pressures.
Mum Emma Coleiro said the new St Therese Catholic Preschool & Long Day Care at Sadleir was an absolute “godsend”.
She said she felt blessed having the opportunity to have her daughter in Catholic day care and developing relationships not just with the centre but with the neighbouring primary school which she will attend next year, the Parish Priest and most importantly God.
“My main reason for sending Jasmine here is because it’s Catholic, but there are so many other positives I have found since we started,” she said.
“The staff are absolutely beautiful, the centre is so bright and new but it’s the familiarity Jasmine has already developed with St Therese primary school which she will attend next year that has been one of the biggest benefits.
“The family educator from the school as well as the Parish Priest Rev Paulino Tui Kolio visit regularly, enabling the kids to feel very comfortable learning about their faith.
“It’s just so lovely when Jasmine comes home from the centre singing a hymn she learnt or with a prayer they have written themselves.
“We feel very lucky to be one of the first families here and honestly couldn’t be happier.“
Established by Sydney Catholic Early Childhood Services (SCECS), the St Therese Catholic Preschool & Long Day Care centre at Sadleir, was officially opened and blessed last week by Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev. Anthony Fisher OP.
He said the centre will promote the pastoral outreach of parish and school communities by supporting the lifelong needs of families with young children.
“Catholic education has achieved some extraordinary things in 200 years but we must keep pushing the boundaries and one such boundary we are crossing at last is into affordable, quality Catholic pre-school and long day care centres,” he said.
“We know parents want it and need it and we aspire to be everywhere in Sydney with more prosperous areas assisting poorer ones.
“My vision is for an Archdiocese where parishes minister to our people from cradle to grave.
“Where a parish pre-school is just as normal as a parish primary school and where both are focused on assisting parents and parishes in passing on the Catholic faith to our young people, as well as giving them the best possible start educationally.”
The new state-of-the-art purpose built centre is a place of both “education and evangelisation” and offers places for 40 three to five year olds with programs to identify children with diverse learning needs including gifted tendencies.
It is the first of a number of centres planned for the Archdiocese of Sydney, with another preschool also operating in Auburn and others planned for Austral, Bonnyrigg and Caringbah in the near future.
University of Notre Dame and Australian Catholic University students enrolled in teaching degrees may complete work placements at the preschool, where they will observe what religious education looks like for 3 to 5 year olds.
SCECS Head Franceyn O’Connor said the Sadleir-Miller centre is the first such facility aimed at ensuring that all young families have access to affordable early childhood services.
She said by having a not-for-profit long day care option, SCECS is trying to reduce the financial stress families are facing due to soaring childcare costs.
“Financial circumstances should never be the barrier that limits access to early education,” Mrs O’Connor said.
“This is why it’s vital that we create as many affordable early childcare places as possible for young families in our local parish communities.
“We want every young family in the Sadleir-Miller community to have access to high quality education and care within a beautiful Catholic environment.
“Working across the parish community we can provide a more comprehensive early education experience, including a seamless transition into Kindergarten with the foundations already in place to succeed at school.”