Longtime early childhood educator Linda Bond is sounding the alarm over what she considers the ‘tragic’ state of daycare in the lakecity.
“It’s critical. It’s an absolute crisis,” Bond said Monday.
Bond has been with the Williams Lake and District Daycare for the past 31 years. She is set to appear as a delegation Tuesday evening at the next city council meeting along with Faren Lozier of Exploring the Puddle Early Learning Centre to bring more attention to the challenges facing both parents and daycare providers.
“We’re looking for help, ideas,” Bond said. “Something’s gotta change.”
Bond said currently she has 134 children on a wait-list to get into Williams Lake Daycare where they are licensed to care for 32 children, but only have 24 right now due to lack of staffing. Of the 134 wait-listed, about 85 of those waiting are children aged from newborn to three years, an age group that Bond said has a chronic wait list.
Realistically, Bond admits most on her wait list won’t get into her daycare and will have to look elsewhere for childcare.
“It’s tragic. That’s why we are reaching out to council, to parents, to try and find solutions. I think we have to think outside the box because what we’re doing now isn’t working.”
Bond sees a lack of qualified staff as the biggest challenge facing daycare providers.
She noted that a Early Childhood Educator (ECE) program has not been offered locally in Williams Lake for the past two years. She also acknowledges that the pay ECE graduates receive once working doesn’t help either.
The government does offer some subsidies to help off-set the cost for parents and daycare providers, which helps.
At Williams Lake Daycare, for example, a child under three years old in full-time daycare will cost $1,150 with $350 of that subsidized, while a child over three years old costs $790 per month with $100 of that subsidized.
Bond is encouraging residents to come to the city council meeting Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. to voice their concerns and offer possible solutions.
“The stronger the support we show, the better.”
Bond said she thoroughly enjoys working with children.
“I love working with kids, and we pride ourselves on being an extension of our families.”