By Lorene Keitch
An in-depth study of child care in the Columbia Valley has now been compiled and released, with a community sharing time set for this Saturday, November 25th.
Michele Neider, director of program management at Family Dynamix, says the child care study showed gaps in local child care.
“I don’t know if anybody will be surprised here,” said Ms. Neider. “It confirmed what we expected the issues were.”
The child care study launched by Family Dynamix last spring included a survey conducted in June, 2017 which sought to identify barriers, challenges, opportunities, and potential future initiatives. There were 126 respondents: 96 parent/caregivers, 20 business owner/operators, and 10 child care provider or agency respondents. In general terms, the survey results found parents are satisfied with the quality of child care given by existing child care providers; there is a shortage of licensed child care spaces in the community, out of business-hours child care is extremely limited, short-term or emergency child care is basically non-existent; there is a shortage of qualified early childhood development workers to staff the existing facilities, and the Columbia Valley would benefit socially and economically if additional child care services were provided, according to the report compiled by PlanningWorks Consulting Inc.
The report not only looked at survey results, but also Census statistics, data from other sources such as Invermere’s Official Community Plan, and estimated population growth of children as estimated by BC Stats. After looking at all the data, the study found there is a slow but steady population growth across the Columbia Valley, with the significant growth found in Invermere, Windermere, and on the First Nations reserves.
Aside from the community sharing time, Family Dynamix staff will also be meeting with the area daycares to see what the next steps for filling the child care gap in the community should be.
“We don’t have the answers. We’re hoping that after, whatever comes out of these public consultations, we will have an idea,” Ms. Neider explained.
She urges parents, caregivers and anyone else interested to come to the information session, which will present the key findings from the child care study. The information session takes place this Saturday, November 25th at the Invermere Public Library from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.