Parents scrambling to find daycare space as schools take classrooms back
Many Metro Vancouver parents whose children attend daycares in schools are finding themselves scrambling now that the classrooms are needed for lessons.
Kathy Tuulos's two daughters have attended Junior Citizens Care Centre at Mountain Meadows Elementary in Port Moody since they were babies. But now, Tuulos is one of several parents in the Coquitlam School District facing the loss of that support.
"It's a lot of stress on us, and stress on us is one thing but our kids are impacted too," she said.
She recently found out that the daycare will have to downsize at the end of June. They'll be losing one of the classrooms used for child care, the classroom where her girls have been cared for for years.
And Tuulos said kids at Junior Citizens aren't the only ones affected.
"There's five or six other daycares that are impacted," she told CTV News on Monday.
While she understands the need for learning space, she said she'd like to see the daycare take advantage of other space at the school, or for the district to give parents more time to find another option.
The district said its working with daycare providers to minimize impact.
The daycare operator said they're losing the classroom because districts are taking back the space, which is needed due to new class size requirements. The smaller class size cap was part of a deal reached between the B.C. teachers' union and the province following a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada.
"In total there are 81 children and their families who will be affected in some way," said Junior Citizens Daycare manager Shalimar Abbas.
The daycare has proposed other solutions including using the gym or library space for a year-long trial.
The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District said it's in the same boat as its Coquitlam counterpart, unable to renew leases for two daycares located inside schools: Harry Hooge Elementary and Webster's Corner's Elementary.
Pam Preston with the West Coast Child Care Resource Centre said that what families need is more investment in early child care.
"Everything is balanced on this precarious edge and it just doesn't seem fair to me that children are paying that price," she said.
Child care has been a popular topic of campaign rhetoric in the weeks leading up to the provincial election.
Liberal Leader Christy Clark said she'd "work with parents" to make sure more spaces are created, promising up to 13,000 new spaces by 2020.
NDP Leader John Horgan said his party wants to make sure no one loses their spaces. The New Democrats are running on a promise of $10-a-day child care for families with annual incomes less than $40,000 a year.
The Greens are pledging free preschool, free daycare for kids under three with working parents and up to $500 per month for families with a stay-at-home parent and a child under the age of two.