Crisis is the word being used to describe the need for childcare spaces in Golden and Area A of the Columbia Shuswap Regional district.
The Golden and Area A Child Care Action Plan (2020-2030) prepared for the Town of Golden by Golden Community Social Services Coop revealed the need for 121 more daycare spaces.
As of early 2020, there are 264 children under the age of three in the community, with only 27 licensed and operational child care spaces to serve those children.
According to a 2011 Stats Canada General Social Survey, the average child care usage rate for children in this age group is 54 per cent. But Golden is meeting the child care needs of only 10.2 per cent of this demographic.
In order to address this crisis, four groups are working together to attract individuals who might be interested in opening their own daycare or becoming a worker in a daycare centre.
Led by WorkBC, the group includes College of the Rockies, Golden Economic Development and Child Care Resource & Referral in Golden, which will host a free information session at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 1 at the local campus of the College of the Rockies.
“Creating more spaces for children birth to 36 months is the biggest priority for Golden and Area A,” says. College of the Rockies Campus Manager Jill Sadler. “I think the big push is that in Golden there are two things happening: there are not enough daycare spaces and local daycares are hiring all the time, but there are not enough people qualified to be early childhood educators.”
Sadler says some parents are leaving their children with neighbours and extended family, sometimes more out of desperation than choice, which is putting a strain on extended families and neighbours.
“I saw a woman who was called into work and posted ‘can anyone take care of my kids?’ on social media. She’s reaching out to strangers.”
Sadler says participants at the Feb. 1 meeting will have the opportunity to learn more about the profession, the Early Childhood Education Certificate/Diploma requirements and study options, and bursaries and grant funding supports available for students wanting to study in the program.
Qualified applicants who meet Work BC’s criteria can apply for grants through that organization. Financial subsidies are available to those who have to take time off from work to study. Those who wish to open their own daycare businesses can also apply for provincial grants.
The provincial government is providing a wage subsidy, as is the Columbia Basin Trust, adds Sadler.
“The other key component is that the College of the Rockies offers group in-class study in Cranbrook,” Sadler says. “Our local ECE group is trying to get the program to Golden so could also get a group together in a local classroom.”
This free information session will be held at the local College of the Rockies, 1305 9th St South in Golden. Interested persons can send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Walk-ins are welcome.
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