How do you tell your two-year-old her childcare centre burned down?

I realised very early on that if I was to ‘have it all’ – the house, the career, the family – that childcare was going to be a huge part of my life, and so it took us weeks of painstaking effort to find the right childcare centre for our daughter.

After making sure it ticked all the boxes – and the countless hours ensuring she was comfortable in her surroundings – we had 15 months of bliss, knowing she was being properly taken care of in a place she felt safe.

Then, in the early hours of 5 June, it was all gone in a flash.

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This week we woke up to the news that our beloved Kool Kidz Tarneit childcare centre had been hit by a driver and subsequently burnt to the ground overnight.

Knowing everything the owners and teachers had worked hard for over the past two years to make it one of the only exceeding rated childcare centres in the area was gone, was a horrible shock to say the least.

My first reaction is to think that thank goodness it didn’t occur while the centre was operational – but as a parent you can’t even let your mind go to this place. This is meant to be their safe space.

Within eight hours of this tragedy unfolding the centre’s beautiful owners Sam and Ian were able to pick themselves up after losing their business, their everything, and put our children first to find emergency care for 300+ children and families.

"This is meant to be their safe space." (Image via Kool Kidz.)

Because without this vital service our community the outer west suburb of Tarneit would suffer even more.

I always knew people who worked in the childcare industry were special people, but after this week seeing the compassion these women have shown to my daughter and her little friends is beyond touching.

The outcome is that my daughter has been moved to a new centre (new paperwork, contracts etc.) but she is with her little friends and the majority of her teachers. Familiar faces in a time of uncertainty and a rabbit named Princess Elsa have helped her to recover from losing what has been such a regular part of her life for the past 15 months.

That she could have these familiar faces around was nothing short of a miracle. I thank the other centres for welcoming not only our children, but our teachers, with open arms.

I have tried to explain to my daughter what has happened, that our old school was sick and has to be rebuilt, but I don't see how a two-year-old can properly process this information.

The community has been amazing, opening up their doors for crisis meetings, red cross counselling and events planned for the children to stay connected through playgroups etc.

But rather than grieve the centre's loss - we are looking to the future and working towards getting all the families and teachers under the same roof with our owners Sam and Ian by our sides.

I know it will happen and I know our owners are not leaving any stone unturned in the search for resources to help make this happen as soon as possible and for that I will be forever grateful.

As a community we will bounce back.

A petition has been created to rally the local government to support the re-locating of childcare while Kool Kidz Tarneit rebuilds. You can support Kool Kidz Tarneit by signing their petition.

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