By Christina Gretton, Catholic Outlook.org, 9 June 2021
The children at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Out of School Hours Care (COSHC), have a whole lot of new friends each afternoon when they are joined by the children from Santa Sophia Primary School, the new primary school currently sharing their school grounds.
Currently, the two schools are located on the same premises while Santa Sophia is being built at Box Hill. Space is being managed by different classrooms, different start times and even different lunchtimes. But at COSHC, the children come together and some happy friendships have resulted.
Gill Pedder, the Coordinator at the COSHC, tells of two girls from the different schools who have become great friends. “Their parents have now become friends as well,” she adds. Gill also reports that friendships between age groups have sprung up. “The older children have a self-appointed buddy system for the younger children,” she says.
Fr Fernando Montano, representing Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, blessed the COSHC on Thursday 3 June 2021, telling the children “Today we are going to ask God to bless this place where you learn and play.”
The Centre, which cares for 230 children weekly, was originally opened and operated by a private company. The transition of its management to the Diocese as part of its mission to expand childcare services and expand its pastoral reach, enables greater continuity between the school and the centre, particularly around teaching Catholic values.
While some parents were anxious about the impact of the transition, once they realised the main care staff have stayed with the Diocese, they were relieved and positive about the transition, says Melanie Corke from Catholic Diocese of Parramatta Services Limited, which runs COSHC on behalf of the Diocese.
Principal of Our Lady of the Angels Primary School, Tony Calabria, agreed that parents need to be confident their children are being well looked after. “Having the care on-site creates a lot less stress for parents,” he says. He confirms it was a smooth transition to the Diocese, an important requirement for the parents who rely on its service.
Principal of Santa Sophia, Mark De Vries, is also pleased at how well the service is operating for the students. He sees the continuity between school and its childcare services as wonderful opportunities to teach gospel values.
The Our Lady of the Angels COSHC brings the total number of centres in the Diocese to 33 with another three transfers planned for Term 3 2021.
To find out about before and after school care or vacation care near you go to ambrose.org.au