On Monday, March 21st, 2016, our city Councillors voted 9 to 4 in favour of getting out of the childcare business. With the current economic conditions in this city this could be the final nail in our coffin. We may want to start marketing our city as an ideal retirement community.
As we sat at the Council meeting listening to the completely unrealistic and naïve arguments that the children requiring daycare could be placed at existing daycares, and that the 32 Early Childhood Educators would find employment elsewhere, it was difficult to stay quiet and respect the process.
Yes, childcare is expensive, but it is an investment in our current economy, our future economy, and the well-being of our youngest citizens as they grow up to become contributing members of our community. The lack of affordable childcare means that many children from low socio-economic and/or single parent households are destined to relying on social assistance, sub-standard childcare, and living in poverty.
Unemployment, precarious employment, mental illness, addictions, substance abuse, and domestic violence are rampant in our city. All you have to do is spend a day in the primary classes of our city schools to see the impact that this is having on our children. I strongly believe that if we move the focus from childcare to early childhood education – which our city daycares provide – we would have a huge impact on the current living conditions of our most vulnerable citizens and ultimately the well-being of our entire community.
Quality, affordable, and accessible child care is crucial to vulnerable children and families. “Childcare nurtures and stimulates young children. It supports families in their parenting role. It can provide isolated families with a sense of community. When parents are under a lot of stress, childcare offers a much-needed break. Childcare providers can support parents by listening, offering parenting suggestions, making referrals to community resources, and connecting families to other families.”
“Childcare providers are often the first to identify early signs of difficulty in a child. If children need extra support because of developmental delays or disorders, health problems or emotional or behavioural issues, childcare staff can make referrals. They often connect families to speech and language pathologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and mental health services. Childcare staff experienced in including children with special needs know how to work in partnership with parents and therapists to create individual plans for children and then to carry them out.”
“Childcare offers children the security of stable, ongoing care and consistent routines in lives that may, at times, be chaotic. It provides children with caring and supportive adults they can trust. Children make friends with other children. They learn how to share, solve problems and get along. They learn how to accept differences in themselves and in others. The social lessons of respect, empathy and tolerance that happen at childcare can last a lifetime”.
“Like families, childcare programs also need support. When childcare programs have strong, well-trained staff, and when they are properly funded and connected in their communities, they fit naturally into a range of services that can work together to support the families who need them. But the reality is that childcare does not have enough public funding and support. It is a fragmented and fragile system. There is not enough high quality, affordable childcare for all the families who need it.”
Childcare should be a public service which is funded by our tax dollars through the provincial government; just as our schools are. But it’s not. As a result, the actions of our city council – getting out of the childcare business – has just made a bad situation worse.
President, CUPE Local 4148
(Portions of this letter were taken from “First Responders” issue of Visions Journal, 2006, 3 (2), pp. 7, 8, by Ruth Bancroft, Head Teacher at Langara Child Development Centre and on the board of the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC).