MORE than 20 years ago, Chris Passfield told his wife Rhonda he wanted to leave his job as a primary teacher and try his hand in the childcare sector.
“She asked why and I said I had an itch to scratch,” says Mr Passfield, who this week opens his 12th Go Kindy childcare facility in Hunter Street, Newcastle West, with two more slated to open.
“I didn’t want to be in a system where I thought being creative was sometimes frowned upon. I wanted to create my own environments and standards.”
The Maitland-raised businessman, a previous owner of the Kindy Patch childcare group, will open his 13th and 14th facilities in Merewether and Rutherford in coming months.
With the Newcastle West facility, Mr Passfield, his wife Rhonda (a director in the company) and their daughter Meg (its marketing manager) have also created an industry benchmark.
The state-of-the-art centre, which has an outdoor playground and yoga and music room, is believed to the city’s first “above ground” facility, housed on the second and third floor of the four-storey building owned and built by local firm Core Project Group.
“It’s been a personal dream to create something like this and I love the town that we live in and we need something to complement that exciting growth,” he says.
“There have been lots of challenges [but] we have created what we think is a milestone in Newcastle but probably across the state and we like to think it's a benchmark up there with the best childcare services.”
The centre has 30 car parking spaces for parents dropping off children in the morning and a traffic light system akin to a shopping centre to allow a flow of traffic.
Mr Passfield says parking was a crucial factor in an area of the city that is growing and with more young families.
The centre will open at about 10 per cent capacity and will build with demand, he said.
“We have a model to support this short-term before people understand the quality we are offering and once that occurs we are confident we'll move forward,” he said.