Families with young children in Orkney are being invited to register for places at the Willow Tree Nursery in Kirkwall – signalling a major step forward in addressing some of the county’s childcare needs.
The setting - which is housed within the former Papdale Halls of Residence following refurbishment works to meet latest Care Inspectorate requirements – will be opening its doors for children from six months to three years old from Monday 9 August.
Registration for the nursery opens at 9am on Monday 21 June and can be completed via the Council’s MyOrkney online platform with the link to the form available in the Early Learning and Childcare section. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. As to the number of families who can benefit, this will depend on the number of sessions sought within each request, however, the new facility will be registered for the provision for twelve 0-3 spaces and twenty 2-3s at any one time.
The newly established Willow Tree website - www.willowtreeorkney.co.uk contains a wealth of information about the new facility. Including frequently asked questions and an explanation on the registration process, how spaces are allocated, and the charging system.
Once the refurbishment works are completed, the space will be furnished with all the necessary resources and staff recruitment and training completed ahead of the 9 August opening. Parents/carers and children will be invited along the week beginning 2 August for familiarisation visits when children may be left for short times ahead of starting their sessions the following week.
OIC Chair of the Education, Leisure and Housing Committee, Councillor Gwenda Shearer, said: “It has been a challenging journey for all in addressing the childcare needs of families in Orkney, but this latest step signals another welcome milestone for many.
“I must thank parents and carers for their patience and understanding as I very much recognise the initial fears and frustration felt at the uncertainty that lay ahead for them with regard to childcare following the closure of the private nursery and all other Covid-related factors.
“I also want to commend parents and carers in their swift responses when we asked for assistance in gathering the information needed to assess their needs, which was vital to ensure we have an appropriate temporary nursery in place, while also continuing to work on a long-term solution.”