East Kootenay “childcare crisis under the microscope”


childcare-crisis2 Local East Kootenay newspaper, the Cranbrook Townsman, reported on February 24 that a local task force has been appointed to conduct a childcare needs assessment for the region to “seek public input on problems that families face in securing child care, and make recommendations on how to alleviate the issues.”

The task force will include community members, along with representatives of the East Kootenay branches of Children First, Success by Six, and Child Care Resource and Referral, and will partner with Columbia Basin Trust and Teck.

The group has already conducted a survey that has demonstrated a significant need for childcare in all of the area’s communities. 80% of respondents felt there was a need to do a more in-depth childcare assessment.

The two major issues that arise are lack of childcare spaces and the cost of childcare. Families with more than one child find that the bulk of one salary is going to cover childcare costs. The lack of spaces is also influencing people’s decision about whether to accept employment in the area. In addition, in order to provide high quality childcare, more trained ECD staff are needed to run the programs.

This spring, there will be a round of community consultation sessions and a survey about childcare will be circulated to community members. A report with recommendations on East Kootenay childcare will be presented to the community, as well as to the recently announced B.C. Office for the Early Years, elected officials, school districts, city councils and chambers of commerce.