Parents have been left reeling by the news that St.Giles Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre in Burnie will be shutting the doors to its childcare services from late January.
One of only six ASELCCs across the country, parents received news of the closure plans late on Monday in a letter sent out by St.Giles.
Jennifer Prochilo's son Joseph has only been attending St. Giles for eight months, but his transformation in that time has been huge, she said.
Previously, Joseph barely spoke, even to her, and was heavily reliant on Ms Prochilo for all of his social needs. Now, he waves her good bye when he's dropped off and talks and plays with the other children.
The news that the childcare service will no longer be available was "just devastating".
"There's nowhere else for him to go," she said.
"We weren't given a heads up, and even if we were there's nothing to replace it."
For Strahan resident Caitlyn Cook, the news has put her life on hold. Over recent weeks she's been in the process of selling her house and looking for a rental in Burnie, exclusively to be closer to the St.Giles service.
"I'm not from Tassie... so I'm down here on my own just as a single mum to Hartley (her daughter)," Ms Cook said.
"I stayed in Tassie purely because of the service... and drive up to Burnie weekly. It's all funded by myself - the accommodation, the petrol.
"I got into the school (on Tuesday) and asked what was happening, and the staff knew absolutely nothing.
"We've been blindsided."
Mr Billing said he appreciated this would be a shock for families, but that St.Giles was committed to still delivering their early intervention therapy services and providing increased outreach to North-West childcare centres.
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"The Commonwealth grant we've been working with has now ceased," he said.
"We've been working with all partners within the NDIS to create a viable model moving forward and what we've determined over the last few months is that really, childcare isn't potentially what we do our best work in.
"So what we wanted to do was make sure we support the therapy model moving forward and make sure there was some future for the service, rather than potentially no future at all.
"It's not just the NDIS funding. Running a childcare centre... is actually designed for a volume model.
"At the end of the day, working with a child care model which has 12 to 15 children at any point in time is not enough on its own.
"The childcare and therapy combination (wasn't) sustainable."
Mr Billing conceded it was not a large amount of notice for families, particularly amid waitlists for childcare services being experienced regularly, but said work had been going on in the background to try and find viable alternatives before the call was made.
This included conversations with other childcare centres to see if St.Giles could run their program out of their centres, he said.
"This is about evolving our model rather than closing something," Mr Billing said.
"Yes, the childcare is ceasing childcare services, but we will continue to deliver the really valuable therapy that we have delivered in the past, and we'll do that in longer blocks."
Mr Billing said parents would be worked with individually to help them with the transition.
He said he did not believe any staff losses would occur.
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