Families have reacted with shock and dismay at a YMCA decision to scrap school holiday programs at RecWest Footscray.

Maria Kentley said her son and daughter were among a number of children and parents deeply disappointed at the sudden axing.

Ms Kentley has collected more than 50 signatures on a petition calling on the YMCA to reconsider its position, but she isn’t confident of a positive outcome.

“We were in shock when we read the email saying this would be the last program,” she said of the move that came as the most recent school holidays finished. “It’s just such an amazing program … I heard some parents were crying, it was devastating for everybody.”

Ms Kentley said she has been so impressed by the program she happily travelled from Wyndham Vale to Footscray so her children could attend.

“My kids would really look forward to the school holidays,” she said. “All the kids know each other and the staff call them all by their names.

“They’re not just numbers. It’s like a family. The staff are brilliant and everything is perfect, I’m heartbroken to see this.”

RecWest Footscray centre manager Gerald Dixon confirmed via a statement that YMCA Victoria would no longer be running the school holiday program at Footscray.

“After a review of the program performance, YMCA reached the difficult decision that it is no longer feasible to operate this service due to declining participation numbers,” he said.

“YMCA Victoria would encourage parents to visit the My Child website or to call the Child Care Access Hotline on 1800 670 305 for information about alternative school holiday programs operated locally.”

Ms Kentley said she was surprised by any suggestions a shortage of numbers were behind the demise of the program and called on the YMCA to reconsider its stance.

“No parents were contacted before this – we were all blindsided,” she said.