A new 70-place Catholic early education and child care centre officially opened in Maitland on Friday.
St Nicholas Early Education Centre and Pathways Training Centre will cater for children aged up to five years, and is located in central Maitland in Hunter Street.
The Maitland centre is the third St Nicholas Early Education Centre to be opened in the Maitland LGA, with others already established at Chisholm and Lochinvar.
A fourth centre will open Gillieston Heights next year.
Maitland mayor Loretta Baker, and deputy mayor Ben Mitchell were on hand at the opening, as was member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison.
The official opening and blessing was performed by Maitland-Newcastle's Bishop Bill Wright.
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Chief Executive Officer, Sean Scanlon said the facility was a new step in the proud tradition of Catholic education and learning.
"St Nicholas Early Education has grown from an idea 5 years ago to today serving communities in Singleton, Cardiff, Lochinvar, Newcastle West, Branxton, Raymond Terrace, Chisholm and today Maitland," he said.
"In addition the St Nicholas family includes providing before and after school care as well as vacation care across 24 locations, mostly in Catholic schools but often caring for children from other schools.
"We are looking forward to soon working with the community at Karuah and particularly the indigenous children in that area."
St Nick's Maitland includes a 15-place nursery for children aged 0-2, a 15-place program for children aged 2-3 years, a 20-place program for those aged 3-4 and a 20-place preschool program for children 4 to 5 years.
The new centre has an open-air outdoor environment with natural and built spaces, and educators will deliver a child-centred, play-based curriculum.
St Nicholas Pathways is a training initiative designed to engage, develop, train, employ, support and retain current and future staff.
Pathways aims to attract students to undertake studies in early education while still completing high school.
Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison said she was pleased Maitland families will have access to more long-day care options.
She also acknowledged the importance of the new St Nicholas Pathways Training Facility, which will attract trainees from across the Hunter Region.
"While there are two other St Nicholas Early Education Centres here in the Maitland area, the CBD location is the only one that offers this purpose-built training facility," Ms Aitchison said.
Study options include a school-based apprentice/trainee (SBAT) program, an industry immersion program, and ongoing professional development opportunities for new and existing St Nicholas employees.
"I'm pleased that Maitland people who wish to pursue this career pathway have local access to this facility and its associated study options," Ms Aitchison said.
"It is also always positive to see people coming into our CBD, experiencing what we have to offer, and hopefully supporting our small businesses during their visit."