NEWS FILE PHOTO

Child care sector feels the squeeze in Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District

There are five children for every licensed child care space in the ACRD

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) does not have enough child care spaces.

This was confirmed by the region’s Child Care Needs Assessment after months of community engagement, through interviews, an online survey, open houses and focus groups. Three consultants—Marcie DeWitt, Tracy Smyth and Maggie Hodge Kwan—were hired by the ACRD earlier this year to organize and develop a regional child care plan and on Wednesday, Nov. 27, DeWitt and Smyth appeared before the board to present their final report.

Smyth explained that there are two crises going on at the same time in the region. There aren’t enough quality child care spaces that are accessible by families, but the child care sector itself doesn’t have people to staff those spaces.

The report found that there are five children for every licensed child care space in the ACRD. Target numbers are 50 percent.

“There’s just not enough space,” said Smyth. “That wasn’t really earth-shattering news, we knew that, but it was really nice to confirm it.”

READ MORE: Does Alberni-Clayoquot have enough child care spaces?

READ MORE: Port Alberni ‘Stroller Brigade’ marches for child care

Findings didn’t vary much between communities, added DeWitt. The top space needs reported by parents were for infants/toddlers and before and after school care.

“That was mirrored in every single one of our communities in the region,” she said.

Parents also face challenges in flexibility and availability. Even those who have access to child care could still benefit from additional flexibility and options, based on the amount of children they have and the spaces that are available to them.

Childcare has a “tremendous” economic impact on families, DeWitt said, adding that she heard stories from people who have been forced to leave their community because they could not find child care.

In addition, the Early Childhood Care and Education sector itself is also facing a staffing crisis.

“And just the overwhelming feeling that they’re not sufficiently valued, for wages and benefits that are given in that sector,” DeWitt said.

DeWitt and Smyth brought a number of recommendations to the board on Wednesday, with the goal of creating more child care spaces and attracting educators to the field.

Child care requires some “major policy interventions,” said DeWitt, which must take place federally, provincially and at a local level.

“The child care situation in our communities can’t be solved by any one organization, and certainly not just by the local government,” she said. “It does require some coordination in order to bring together that multi-sectoral approach to looking at these solutions.”

ACRD board chair John Jack emphasized the economic impact that child care has on families. “What it provides is time for parents to do what they need to do to make their household work,” he said. “The report does confirm a lot of what I think we already suspected, but…we do need to find a way to coordinate an approach with the province.”

The ACRD board requested on Wednesday that the provincial government expedite the $10 a Day Child Care Plan implementation universally.

ACRD staff will also be investigating and reporting back to the board with options to update or adopt child care supporting policies that have been identified in the report.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: Itska back in owner’s arms after Oak Bay man returns dog taken from Tofino

Shannon Boothman expects to be reunited with Itska on Sunday

Tofino and Ucluelet’s Top 10 sports and arts stories of 2019

Revisiting the Coast’s best sports and arts newsmakers of the past year.

Rent-It Centre takes over curbside collection contract in Tofino and Ucluelet

Rent It Centre’s bid was $25,865 lower than the only other bidder, SonBird Refuse and Recycling.

Tofino’s first cannabis dispensary opens

“I don’t know where it’s going, but happy how it’s gone so far.”

Tofino welcomes much needed veterinarian to town

West Coast has not had a full-time vet since Dr. Jane Hunt surrendered her licence in 2004.

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

How to beat Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year

Multiple factors can play a role in seasonal depression, says Fraser Health psychiatrist

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Most Read