Lumsden child care centre closing, leaving parents in the lurch - MP

"The reality is people need those services to care for their families."
"The reality is people need those services to care for their families." Photo credit: Getty Images

 A National MP is concerned it's becoming harder to raise a family in rural New Zealand after Lumsden's only childcare centre announced it will close within the fortnight.

Riverstones Early Learning Centre will close in ten days due to a staff shortage.

Southland MP Joseph Mooney told Newshub the news is "a real kick in the guts" for the community.

"About 50 kids go to that centre and there's nothing else in the vicinity - we're talking about rural Southland."

Local mum Ashleigh Brewer told Newshub it's difficult to have a family in the area. 

"Lumsden feels like you can't have a family with no daycare - it puts off young families wanting to come here because there's nothing here for the kids until they get to primary school."

The childcare centre is the only one in the local area. Brewer says there is a home-based child carer in nearby Dipton - but she has a waitlist, as does the second closest centre - an hour away. 

"Riverstones is the only real rural place."

To add insult to injury, the closure comes just two years after Lumsden's birthing centre closed.

"Unfortunately it does make it really challenging," Mooney says.

"It's those pieces of infrastructure that give parents the confidence to live and work in the area and... the reality is people need those services to care for their families."

Brewer says the rural commumity is heading to its busiest time of year - calving season. And with no childcare in the area, she's unsure how local parents will cope.

"I feel for the mums and dads that do work, who will have to quit their jobs or hope their boss lets them drag their two-year-old around with them."

Mooney says the Government needs to commit to bringing in skilled migrants to fill the labour gaps in these crucial sectors.

"Stop restricting the flow of skilled workforce in New Zealand - make sure we're using those managed isolation facilities effectively."

But he admitted getting people into rural areas is an additional challenge.

"It is even harder to attract to rural sectors but that's one of the benefits we've had with a migrant workforce is they've been willing to work in areas others might not see opportunity in.

"Rural New Zealand is an amazing place but it's not well understood."