City seeking feedback on childcare services

City seeking feedback on childcare services

A consultant will be holding an open house on Oct. 5 to gather public comments

An upcoming open house is seeking public feedback on the strengths, challenges and potential solutions for childcare in Cranbrook.

Set for Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort, the day-long session is looking for feedback on how local Early Childhood Educators can best be supported for their growth and development, what areas of Cranbrook need childcare resources and space creation, and what supports families need from the childcare profession.

Diane McKean, the Co-CEO of Creative Childcare Consulting, says while there are common national issues around childcare, her team is hoping to come up with made-in-Cranbrook proposals and solutions.

McKean says she hopes to engage with parents who know what they need and what’s affordable as well as meet with early learning and childcare professionals for their input.

“We’re looking at all types of things, all types of possibilities and bringing the Cranbrook experts to the table,” McKenan said.

McKean says some of the major challenges include recruitment and retention of ECE staff, affordability and accessibility which also includes providing a variety of options and hours for parents.

READ: B.C. boosts funding to help communities buy land for daycares

Once McKenan has gathered all the public feedback, it will be compiled and analyzed to find common factors and compare to best practices identified around the world.

“We’re going to see what kinds of tools and strategies are out there that best match Cranbrook and best match the goals that are needed for Cranbrook,” said McKean. “That’s not a thing you can do overnight.”

The goal is to produce one, five and ten year childcare plans for the city, starting off with a foundation of what can be done immediately while also adopting a long term vision for local childcare and early learning.

One important aspect of communities that are able to provide accessible childcare services is the economic impacts for parents who can continue their working careers, McKean added.

“Early learning and childcare is a profession and there is enough international research to clearly demonstrate how it supports healthy growth and development in children,” said McKean, “but it’s also about how it really supports business growth and economic growth for communities.

“If parents want to work, but can’t, if quality childcare is not accessible and parents don’t feel safe with the choices, there is an economic downfall to that.”

The open house will be inviting feedback between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Sam Steele Room at the Rocky Mountain Prestige Resort. There is also a childcare conference running concurrently on the same day and McKean encourages people to leave a note of encouragement or personal comments that will be passed on to local ECE staff who are participating in the conference.

The City of Cranbrook, after a suggestion from Councillor Mike Peabody, pursued a grant from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, which awarded $22,310 for the study, according to a city administration update from last June. The full cost of the consultation, including delivering the final reports, is expected to be $24,990.

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