By John Boivin
Local Journalism Initiative
A report commissioned by a Kaslo daycare has found the area is in “dire need” of additional licenced child care spaces.
The report, said to be the first of the kind for the village, says that the number and affordability of daycare spaces in Kaslo is a real problem. It highlights the need for suitable, affordable child care that meets the needs of families.
The report’s authors estimate to meet basic demand, there needs to be an increase of 125 daycare spaces in the community — 10 times the current number available.
The report by CitySpace Consulting was commissioned by the Periwinkle Daycare and funded by the Columbia Basin Trust. The purpose is to provide a better picture of the current state of child care and the number of spaces needed in the community.
The report, which gathered data via online surveys, found that child care availability in Kaslo and area is very low, “leaving many families without child care, parents unable to work, perform daily tasks, participate in community and for some, needing to leave the community to find the services they need.”
Currently there is only one licenced child care provider in Kaslo, providing 12 spaces for children 3-5 years old, four days a week. That makes the overall child care coverage rate in Kaslo, which is based on the number of licenced child care spaces available for every 10 children, at five per cent.
There are no spaces for children under three, nor for school-aged children, and 21 per cent for children 3-5 years of age.
“To put this in context, a ‘child-care desert’ is considered a coverage rate below 33 per cent, and in 2002 all European Union member-states committed to a coverage rate of 90 per cent for children ages 3 to 5 and 33 per cent for those who are under three,” the authors say.
The report admits it is not a full needs assessment, but it is the first of its kind to provide a preliminary understanding of child care needs in the community.
“We recommend further engagement with families, child care providers and service providers to better understand the need for child care spaces, for underserved populations, and in order to further refine the targets,” it says.
Other findings of this study include:
• The primary challenge experienced by respondents in securing suitable child care are services not being available when needed (62 per cent), followed by both a lack of full-time spaces, and the cost being too high for 42 per cent of families. 38 per cent also struggled to find part-time care. The price of child care is a challenge for most families, who are looking for child care with a budget of $500 or less.
• 60 per cent of single parent respondents have $250 or less per month available in their budget. Only 10 per cent of single parent households currently have child care services meeting their needs.
• The availability of care for infants and toddlers (0-3 years) and children ages 3-5 is of particular concern. Most families are in need of part-time care, although for parents who are working full-time, finding adequate and affordable child care poses a real problem.
• Moving forward, the recommendation is to increase the coverage rate to 55 per cent for 0- to 12-year-old children. In order to meet these targets, there needs to be an increase of 125 spaces, 27 spaces for under 3 years, 20 spaces for 3-5 years, and 79 spaces for school-age children.
• Although there are a few families who would like Indigenous programming, there is low demand for multicultural, or francophone programming.
• Single parents are in particular need of full-time child care. The ability of single parents to attend work, appointments, run errands or perform daily tasks is affected by a lack of access to care.
• A total of 56 parents and guardians, representing 94 children, completed the online survey between April 7 and 19. Further research and a full needs assessment are required in order to have a more robust understanding of child care need, the report said.
— From the Valley Voice