Cranbrook city council is hoping to work School District 5 board trustees to advocate to the province for more daycare spaces, while also issuing a confidential call for expressions of interest for purchasing or leasing city land or facilities to provide those services.
With the Ministry of Education and Childcare including childcare in its mandate, the city says the school district is best positioned for moving forward and taking advantage of funding dedicated to creating new daycare spaces, particularly finding synergies with existing school facilities or district-owned land.
The city is currently seeking clarity from the school district on the type of childcare programming that is being pursued — before and/or after school spaces, as well as all day spaces — while also gauging interest from local providers through the expression of interest to see what’s out there.
There are numerous funding streams and programs available from the province, whether child care operating funding, fee reductions, child care benefits, $10-a-day daycare and startup grants, according to a staff report.
“Once Council has a response from SD#5 on its future intentions, and the confidential expressions of interest proposals from potential childcare providers, Council can then make decisions on next steps,” reads the report.
The report also acknowledges that daycare space and facilities isn’t just the only issue, but also attracting Early Childhood Educator staff, given wage disparities.
“The main issue in past reviews of providing support to more child care spaces has not been the actual physical space, it has been the ability for any organization to staff and resource childcare,” reads the report.
“Currently there is higher enrollment of students at the College of the Rockies who may want to stay in the community and the opportunity for individuals to earn higher wages which is helping the resource shortage, but the barrier still exists and there are no guarantees for the provision of services based on levels of enrollment at the college.”