Economic woes force daycare operations to shut their doors

Krista Bryce, Nanaimo Daily News

Gillian Goerzen is one of dozens of parents in Nanaimo looking for a new daycare spot for their children.

The cost to run their infant/ toddler daycare programs has proved too much for Aspengrove School and Maranatha Church, who will both close their doors this year….

Maranatha created their 16-space daycare four years ago after a newspaper article stressed the need for infant/toddler care in Nanaimo. But even though the daycare pays no rent and has a list of volunteers to help with the books and organization, the church is losing more than $1,000 every month to keep it open. Staff cost is the primary reason why bills are too much to handle.

“But I think they’re extremely underpaid for what they do,” said Barry Hansen, lead pastor, of the staff, who make $20 per hour, including benefits.

Aspengrove has faced the same issues with the high cost to run their infant/toddler program, but also face licence capacity issues for their three-year-olds who transfer out of the toddler room mid-year. The school needs more space and because there are no funds to build, they decided to cut the program that actually costs them money to run.

“If we charged the actual cost of running the (infant/toddler) program,” said Zinda Fitzgerald, head of Aspengrove. “Parents wouldn’t be able to afford it.”

Goerzen youngest son Chase, 15 months, joined his older brother Connor, 4, at Aspengrove on March 1. She likes the continuity of care at the school, where children can easily transition through the different stages of child care all the way to kindergarten in the same facility.

Aspengrove will phase out their infant/child care program by Dec. 31, leaving Goerzen no option but to try find another daycare, which has space for a child under the age of two.

“It’s hard to find a program for kids under 30 months,” said Goerzen, who has secured a spot for Chase as of Sept. 1 at Tots Town in North Nanaimo. But between January and September there aren’t a lot of options….