Childcare tribulations cause anxiety

Cheryl Rossi, Vancouver Courier

Some have described their childcare tribulations as a cautionary tale. So teachers Jennifer and David Braun are relieved their nearly three-year-old son, A, recently snagged a spot at Collingwood Neighbourhood House’s Terry Tayler Early Learning and Care Centre. “I picked him up yesterday, I don’t think he wanted to come home,” Jennifer Braun said.

All went well for 13 months at the first licensed home-based daycare A started attending in February 2012, at age one. Then last March, an inspector discovered 12 children there instead of the seven for which it was licensed. The operator told the Brauns that starting Monday, A could only attend part-time. “We were totally blindsided,” Braun said.

The couple had noticed fewer than seven children some days, more on others with additional adult supervision, and assumed the daycare was licensed for an average of seven children. It took two weeks to secure a spot in another licensed homebased daycare that could accommodate A until July.

The Brauns paid deposits for two future options, one for July, another for September. In June, the daycare A entered in April told the Brauns it could care for him indefinitely. They decided to keep him there for continuity. Braun cancelled the July spot and lost a $300 deposit.

But while on a holiday in July, the Brauns received a message from the operator of the daycare they’d decided to stick with saying she couldn’t care for A any longer because she faced health problems. Braun checked Vancouver Coastal Health’s website and saw the daycare had recently been found to be caring for too many children.

Braun hadn’t yet cancelled the September spot but sought an alternative after a parent there expressed misgivings about it. When a neighbour told Braun spaces were available at the Terry Tayler centre she jumped on it….

Daycare space was provided through community amenity contributions made by a developer on the rezoning. Sharon Gregson, director of child and family development services at Collingwood Neighbourhood House, says her non-profit increased its licensed toddler and school-aged spots last year for a total of 375 spaces in Renfrew-Collingwood and Terry Tayler in neighbouring Norquay Village.

It typically takes years to secure a toddler spot. Braun was overjoyed when she toured Terry Tayler two weeks before school started. “I almost started crying because I’m like this is exactly what I’ve been wanting, a brand new facility, the care workers are [early child education] trained,” she said. “It was very professional but also it seemed loving and fun.”

Gregson, a spokesperson for the Coalition of Childcare Advocates of B.C., is promoting The Plan for $10 a Day Child Care, which proposes the Ministry of Education fund school boards to provide early care and learning programs.

Braun corroborates the need for systemic change. “The government needs to take more of a responsibility to help parents find quality childcare and to pay childcare workers a living wage,” she said.