An assessment on childcare needs that will be shared with government to help inform future provincial childcare investments is underway in Williams Lake.
The Williams Lake Social Planning Council in partnership with the City of Williams Lake has launched two surveys that will be available until Dec. 1, 2019. One is for childcare providers including those who are unlicensed such as babysitters, casual care providers, and grandparents. The other survey is for parents and guardians of children between 0 and 12 years of age and anyone considering becoming a foster parent, adopting children, and or planning on becoming future parents.
“I’ve learned about what’s going on with childcare in this community, and the words I hear are crisis, desperation, frustration, and anger even over what’s going on because it’s just really hard for families right now,” said Social Planning Council coordinator Jordan Davis.
“I know that there are people telling me that they’ve literally just had their child and they’re on waitlists already and it’s still not looking good, and then you’re coming up to the point of my maternity leave or my paternity leave is over and I don’t have childcare, what am I going to do. So that gets really scary for people.”
Although the Province has allocated funds to create new licensed childcare spaces, Davis said they have to do an interim process of data collection.
“We want to hear from everybody so we have the best amount of data to look at how many spaces our community needs and what kind of spaces do we need because we want really inclusive childcare. So we want childcare that can be culturally safe, we want childcare that can look after children of people that have immigrated to our community where maybe English isn’t their first language,” Davis said.
“We want to support those kids as well.”
The Ministry of Children and Family Development announced $25,000 in funding for the assessment in Williams Lake earlier this year. Quesnel in partnership with the Cariboo Regional District was provided with $50,000.
Once the survey closes, the City of Williams Lake is expected to draft an action plan to create childcare spaces and work with their childcare stakeholders including their school districts, local health authorities, and Indigenous partners to build the plans.
“Once we have our data we’ll really be looking at how we can advocate for certain kinds of funding for space creation, and also how do we attract early childhood educators and how do we keep them in our community, how do we keep them happy, how do we keep them in position where they’re able to take their breaks properly,” Davis said.
“There’s a whole element over education and what are we offering in our community to educate people to become ECEs and we want them to be paid really well because it’s one of the absolute most important jobs that can ever happen. We know that brain development from 0 to 6 is huge for kids, so we need to put a lot more emphasis on the importance of this.”
Paper copies of the online survey are available at the Women’s Contact Society.