A feasibility study on childcare and early learning that has been in the works for quite some time is almost near its final conclusion.
More than 30 parents, politicians and concerned citizens showed up to the Kicking Horse River Lodge on Nov. 14, to hear what the study’s architect, Laurie Dalzell, had to say about the ongoing investigation into the current state of early childcare and early learning in our community, and the possible changes that would be made.
“We’re not entering into any debates here today,” said Dalzell, stressing the point that the forum was to gather feedback and provide information about early learning or care.
“Golden is strong in many areas of this, with the Strong Start Program and a lot of other programs the Early Childhood Development Coalition has brought into business over the years,” said Dalzell of early learning, but added that it can always get better. Studies continually show that early learning is the best way to prepare children for school, and those that don’t receive adequate preparation are left vulnerable right from the start.
The vulnerability rate in British Columbia is 30 per cent. Golden is behind the provincial average at 41 per cent, and the best vulnerability rate in the region belongs to Revelstoke with nine per cent.
Dalzell has spent the last several months collecting data from families and businesses in Golden (118 households have participated so far, 24 employers and business owners, and five of the seven home child care providers – 173 kids ages zero to 14 have been represented).
“Fifty per cent say they’re impacted in some way by the current care system, but more people are happy than unhappy,” said Dalzell. There are still problems, however, and Dalzell’s data shows that flexible, part-time and summer care is badly needed. She also discussed the reliance many parents have on family and friends for care, an option that families who are new to Golden may not have.
As part of her research, Dalzell surveyed future parents (couples who plan on having children in the next several years). Out of the 30 to 50 that she questioned, 90 per cent said they would consider using a group facility if it were available.
Dalzell is still gathering information through focus groups, and is careful to not throw out any recommendations until she is finished.
“I want people to be involved ahead of time,” said Dalzell. “Any recommendations made in the study must be actionable, and getting people invested now is the best way to do that.”
Dalzell expects the final report to be complete by Dec. 16.