Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Childcare issues under the microscope in Pincher Creek area

LaVonne Rideout and Launa Clark

Toni Lucas - Close to 20 Pincher Creek childcare workers recently attended one of several meetings to discuss childcare for residents who live in the area. The age range of the children discussed ran from birth to 12 years old. The meetings were run by Motivention President Launa Clark and Pincher Creek Parent Link's Executive Director LaVonne Rideout.

Motivention is a Calgary based company with a self described "mission to grow and strengthen the community of creative teachers supporting creative children."  Rideout said the information needed to evaluate the situation of child care in the town is still being gathered and said completed surveys, questions, or concerns could be brought to Parent Link for inclusion in the study.

Luana Clark explained that the purpose of these meetings are to evaluate if it is time to make a change within Pincher Creek childcare and how residents would like  to see those changes occur. Although the focus was about the residents of the area, some issues which came up were more provincial or social in the scope of concerns.  Luana Clark asked, "How would you make change for childcare in a community?" The answers given posed more and more questions.

Everyone would like to leave their children with a competent, professional who cares for their children as individuals.  It costs to get the training needed to be at that level of competency.  the other side of this equation are those professionals are often regarded as 'little more than babysitters' according to more than one professional in the room.

Childcare faces and poses financial frustrations for both the businesses providing care and the clients who wants to make use of the services.  It is an area where the financial cost of putting your child into a program sometimes outweighs the financial reward of having child-free time to pursue earning a living.  Training for childcare work comes at a cost.  There are day-to-day expenses for the childcare providers, including maintenance, toys, supplies, food, and the time needed to run the business end of things properly.  One concern raised is that if there is not a way to better subsidize the cost to the parents it may just become more unaffordable for people to leave their children in childcare, and if you remove children from childcare,  jobs are sacrificed, altering the local economy and affecting the economics of individual households.

Other issues that were brought up included accessibility, and availability options, including times of day when childcare service is available.  Parents of children do not just work 9 to 5, and no local facility offers a 24 hour service.  The childcare workers have restrictions on how many people have to be on duty for various age groups, and are pressed, as they have to offer quality care. Location, amenities, program cuts,  and options for the children were also discussed, There was talk about playground rules, administration time and skills, and the buildings where the service is currently provided.

There is one more public meeting to be held August at the Glenwood Library in the Village of Glenwood starting at 7:00.  There will be a teleconferencing opportunity available at the Pincher Creek Library.

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