On a recent Facebook post, the Revelstoke Childcare Society (RCCS) announced their wait list, at 77 names long, had been changed to an ‘Information List.’ The RCCS appealed to parents to understand that they do their best to accommodate people, but it just isn’t feasible to find space for everyone. Waitlist, it was noted, gave the impression that if families did just that, a spot would appear. This isn’t the case.
“Some parents have had their child’s name on the list since they were born,” explains RCCS Executive Director Linda Chell.
It is important to recognize not all 77 people need immediate, full time childcare. The number represents a variety of ages, some not yet ready for care, and those who need part time care as well as full time care.
“Whatever the total, the truth is the number of kids needing care come September is greater than we can offer in our facilities,” says Chell. “Only a few spots open up across all age groups. It’s a balancing act. For example, say eleven children are going to kindergarten, but eight are moving from the infant room to the three to five year old room, there will only be three spots opening in the 3 to 5 centre.”
Siblings of children currently receiving child care are first to receive a child care space and siblings of children in preschool are first to receive a preschool space. This year, many of the families RCCS serves have siblings entering child care.
Chell and her staff are dedicated to helping place children in various childcares.
“We have the information for all licensed or registered license not required daycares in Revelstoke,” she says and the Child Care Resource and Referral can provide free referrals to families.
Though there are other childcare options available, Chell notes that being licensed requires child care providers to be trained and educated, inspected yearly, have first aid, clear criminal record checks, and insurance. Being licensed by the province means that the child care are held to the same licensing standards as the Cottages, Moberly Manor and the RCCS.
As for those who are not licensed or registered licence not required, Chell urges them to consider becoming so.
“It’s a great time to do it,” she says. “Right now there is a grant for $500 per space up to $3,500 to open licensed family child care. It is realistically doable and it is a viable career. The RCCS is here to help give support and guidance. Ultimately, childcare providers have to do their own work to get licensed. They have to have policy and procedures, the physical space has to be inspected by the city and fire department, and then the licensing officer checks that the health and safety of children is being met.”
For those looking for care, Chell encourages parents to get their info to the child care that meets their needs. “We can help you find the ones that work for you,” she says.
Employers in cities, Chell notes, are starting to become more accommodating, offering work sharing and flex hours so parents can make their childcare and careers work.
“This level of child care demand in Revelstoke has only occurred in the last few years. Not long ago, families could get away with one parent being home for two or three years, but now most people have to go back to work as soon as they are done parental leave,” she says.
Staffing can also become problematic. If Chell could find more qualified staff, she could open more spaces.
“Getting qualified via distance takes about three years,” says Chell. “Getting your Early Childhood Education certificate takes two years, with another year to get your diploma.”
Chell does encourage her staff to upgrade wherever possible, and Chell estimates nearly $200,000 dollars have been invested in staff training over the past fifteen years. This money comes from an investment of federal and provincial training grants and the Child Care Society.
Revelstoke isn’t alone in the childcare shortage. In fact, per capita, Revelstoke offers more licensed spaces than most of BC.
With the cost of living so high in Revelstoke, it means having a family requires being put on child care waitlists as soon as possible or finding ways to be flexible at work.
“We’re doing our best to accommodate everyone,” Chell says. “We know it’s frustrating for parents who can’t find care.”