Childcare centres in Williams Lake will be seeking the support of City Council to have an early childhood educator program (ECE) made available at Williams Lake TRU campus.
Administrator of the Williams Lake and District Daycare Centre, Linda Bond will be presenting a delegation with Faren Lozier of Exploring the Puddle Early Learning Centre at Tuesday’s (Nov. 19) regular council meeting.
“It has always been a struggle to find qualified staff but recently it’s just gotten worse,” Bond says.
“Some different centres are opening and there’s one slated to open soon, and unfortunately it’s a chronically underpaid job so people don’t move here for it, so I think it would be super great if we could have the training available here.”
Bond adds she recently had someone leave and despite advertising for the full-time position, she received no applicants.
“It’s a full-time permanent position I’m looking for somebody for and there are no applicants never mind qualified,” she says. “We already have reduced our spaces by four, and we weren’t at capacity. At this point, we’re running eight-under capacity for our under 3 programs and I have over 50 kids on my waitlists for my two under 3 programs so it’s pretty tragic when there are people looking. I’ve got people that have been on my wait since they’ve been pregnant and they’re still not in.”
Bond says while she hopes Council will provide them with some ideas, she is ultimately hoping that Council will support them in trying to get TRU or somebody to run an ECE program at a local level.
“Last week I had two of my staff on three different days. Between the two of them had the stomach flu and I had to ask some parents, we had a couple of parents I knew were not working that day, I had to ask people to not bring their kids so that we were okay without because I couldn’t find a sub.”
Staffing troubles lead to the closure of Exploring the Puddle’s Preschool Program
Co-owner of Exploring the Puddle Early Learning Centre, Faren Lozier agrees with Bond that the matter is getting worse.
“We’ve had to shut down our preschool program, so that’s 32 families that no longer have preschool,” Lozier says.
“And then when my staff are sick or if anyone needs time off we’re having to shut down daycare spots as well, and our waitlists are in the hundreds so we’ve got people that are on our waitlists that will potentially never get in and therefore can’t obtain childcare at all until they start school.”
Lozier says as well as looking at reinstating an ECE program in Williams Lake, she says retention needs to be looked at as well.
“If they’re not being paid what they should be, nobody is going to stay in the field,” she adds. “So we need to have a look at that and see how we can solve that issue and see how we can make the field more attractive for more potential ECEs to come in.”