The B.C. Government has been working to improve childcare in the province and recently announced that they’ve created more than 10,400 new, affordable licensed childcare spaces.
Here in Cranbrook, Monkey Do’s Childcare Centre, which provides care for 3 to 5 years olds, recently moved from their original location into a new space further up 10th Ave. and double their capacity, going from 16 spaces for children to 32.
Monkey Do’s owners Corra Scoville and Wanda Dunn say that they did apply for and receive a grant to do the expansion in their original location, but then were declined a permit to renovate the space by the City of Cranbrook. They decided to return the grant money, due to the delay of the timeline of starting the project, and so their move into the new spot came at their own expense.
Their new home in the New Life Four Square Church at 308 10 Ave S fortunately required little renovations.
“It’s an old school building that accommodates classrooms, it was a perfect setup for us to relocate,” Scoville said. “We did end up having to pay for it ourselves. With it being a classroom setup we were lucky to find a location with such prime real estate for childcare.”
Although they wound up returning the grant money, and although they describe the childcare situation in Cranbrook as a crisis, they say the steps the government have been taking have made some noticeable improvements.
“There’s different sectors of the funding from the government,” Scoville explained. “So we have an operational funding where the government will pay for each child each day a small portion but it definitely helps with resources and art supplies, food, that type of thing.
“And then the incentive for the parents, they also provide a deduction off of their parent fee and then they’ve just implemented the staff top up. So now they’re offering a dollar an hour extra for your staff on top of the wage that you provide them, just to have some incentive to keep them in the industry.”
“So even though we did not take the grant money there is other funding that’s available to all daycares,” added Dunn. “Everybody gets it. I would say the government initiative is helping, especially when it comes to making it easier for parents being able to afford childcare by taking money off of their bill every, that’s helping parents financially and giving the dollar top up to pay your staff is now making the wage a little bit higher, which helps as well.”
They also added that they were lucky in their endeavour to find the additional required staff, especially considering their timeline and how hard it is to find early childhood educators, not just in Cranbrook but all around the province.
Dunn did her training nearly 20 years ago right here at the College of the Rockies and her daughter recently did as well. She graduated in June of this year and Monkey Do’s brought her in to do some sub work over the summer, knowing that they wanted to expand in the fall.
“She wanted to come and work for us so that’s how were able to get an early childhood educator,” Dunn said. “Then our other staff member is an assistant and she was working at another program with infants and toddlers and she felt like she was ready to move on from that age group so we were able to hire her as well.”
Dunn said that once the move was finalized and she put out an advertisement that they had 16 additional spaces available, her phone rang off the hook and she had seven booked before she even got to work that morning.
“People are phoning and booking and reserving a spot when they’re pregnant,” Scoville said.
She said that infant/toddler care programs are even harder to come by, because within the 3-5 years old range that they provide, they are required to have a ratio of one staff member to eight kids. When it comes to infant/toddler care, it’s one staff member for four kids.
“A lot of the programs are maybe eight or 12 kids and so when you think of all the people in Cranbrook that need to go back to work, there’s not enough infant/toddler care either,” Dunn said.