Generations of Cowra's children have walked through their front door and even after four decades, there's no signs of slowing down for Cowra Early Childhood Services (CECS).
The service marked 40 years of operation with an in-house birthday party for both staff and children at Carinya on Wednesday, featuring a day of games and play in Apex Park, along with a delicious watermelon cake.
Cowra Early Childhood Services Director Susan Callaghan said it was a celebration for the whole community.
"It is a community-based service which is owned by the community so we are here just for them, with no other purpose but to serve the children and families and provide education and care," she said.
"We've been going through so many photos, boxes and boxes of photos this week and posting them up on social media and as you go around the community, people go "Oh I've been looking and I didn't see this year, have you got any from this year?" or they'll post something up that they've got at home just to add to it, it's amazing.
"So much of the community has been through here either themselves or their children."
CECS General Manager, Libby Ewing-Jarvie said the service has gone from strength to strength.
"It's a very, very happy occasion and to me, it's just so cool to see a community-based organisation like ours, succeeding for so many years," she said.
"It's really nice to be part of it."
When CECS first opened its doors in 1981, it was a preschool in Vaux Street before moving to the Comerford Street site.
A few years later, Cowra Family Day Care came on board.
In 1999, CECS' mobile service began operation before a need from the community saw the establishment of the Out Of School Hours (OOSH) service 12 years ago.
Ms Callaghan said there have been plenty of changes throughout the years.
"They children haven't changed, the families haven't changed except the times have changed," she said.
"There's been some really positive changes, with regulations there's increases in qualifications for educators, which just lifts the quality of care for children and families.
"There's so many more working families now that it's a home away from home so natural environment, sustainable programs, comfort as well as education is really important within our environments.
"I suppose over the time of COVID too, it's really shown that we're an essential service... all sorts of businesses and families rely on us.
"It's growing and growing and we'll continue to grow."
Looking to the future, Ms Ewing-Jarvie said the service will continue to focus on catering to the needs of the community.
"Maybe it's expanding the services central to Cowra, maybe it's expanding services in nearby towns, maybe it's taking some of the great specialist skills that people like Susan have and offering them to the early childhood education and care sector," she said.
"There's a lot of possibilities."
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