After months of work, the Childcare Feasibility Study is finally complete.
“I hope there will be stuff in the project that you can take and move forward with as a community,” said the study’s author Laurie Dalzell during a presentation on Dec. 16.
“Early learning care is really important to the whole community, as well as being crucial to the children,” said Dalzell. “We need to make sure that the children who go into Kindergarten, go ready.”
Dalzell stressed the point that this study is only the first step, and many more must follow this. And she is recommending that one of those steps be creating an infant/toddler group facility.
“About 90 per cent (of the people surveyed for the study) said they would consider using a group facility if one was available,” she said. There were 121 parents, 25 businesses, and seven childcare providers surveyed for the study.
At the moment, even though not all of the childcare facilities in town are at capacity, there is a demand for infant and toddler care. Age regulations limit the number of kids in each age group that can be accommodated at each facility. This means they may have room for kids over the age of four, but are full for kids ages four and under. Also, the variety of needs (part-time or drop-in care for example), make it difficult to accommodate for everyone in town.
“What I’ve found is that people really want to have choices, and I don’t think they have much of that right now,” said Dalzell.
She believes that a group infant/toddler facility may help with that. She also suggested that the community look for existing spaces within town that may fit their needs.
But before any of that happens, Dalzell recommends the town hire a “champion” to push the project forward.
“First, the community needs to come together, and then hire a full-time ‘champion’ who has the energy and the time to drive this forward,” she said. This person will need to balance the immediate needs and short-term goals, with the long-term vision.
Joanne McCullough with the Golden Early Childhood Development Coalition stood up at the end of the presentation to say that the coalition is committed to seeing this project move forward, and will not let it slip through the cracks.