Only five people attended the organizational meeting for a new daycare service, but the process to establish a society is going ahead.
The organizational meeting was held in the council chamber at the Town of Falher office in the evening of April 10. Those attending included Lynn Florence for Smoky River Family and Community Support Services; Diane Chiasson for Smoky River Regional Economic Development; Bernie Napier, a retired consultant for the daycare service that was established in Falher in 2010; and Christin Trofimenkoff, an early learning consultant for High Prairie and area.
Chiasson will start the paperwork to establish a society, for a new daycare service.
“We will start the process of establishing the society and we will work on the policies, bylaws and licensing,” says Chiasson.
Napier said she was disappointed about the lack of representation from the communities at this meeting. Nonetheless, she remains hopeful that a new daycare service will be established.
“I understand fully that the organizational process of setting up a daycare society, and policies are complicated and not for volunteers that have limited knowledge of what is needed, or it’s not easy for volunteers.
“As the daycare consultant at the time, I was involved with the setting up for the opening for the daycare in 2010, and it was a beautiful, nurturing and learning environment.”
There are issues that one had, which are relevant to any new daycare service today, she adds.
“Lack of qualified staff was a big issue then, and it is still a factor in neighbouring communities. We need to encourage our high school students to consider early childhood as a career.”
Competitive wages can also be an issue and, Napier continues, co-operation between the communities is required to make a new daycare service a reality.
“With the raising of the minimum wage, the wage gap between the (Level 1) Child Care Worker wages and the (Level 3) Child Care Supervisor are not making these opportunities attractive. There is a need for quality childcare and the communities have to come together to reach this goal.”
Trofimenkoff highlighted the bylaws and policies that must be dealt with, as well as facility licensing and staffing requirements. But it is not necessary to start from scratch, Trofimenkoff adds, as she can provide copies of bylaws and policies from other daycare services, which can be adapted for a new one here.
Trofimenkoff also provides board development workshops, explaining their roles and responsibilities.
Florence noted that Rycroft is in the process of opening a new daycare facility.
NDP MLA Marg McCuaig-Boyd was in Falher several weeks ago to get feedback about the 2018 provincial budget. McCuaig-Boyd touted her government’s commitment to providing child care funding:
“The high cost of quality child care, which for many families is the equivalent of a second mortgage, has been ignored for far too long in this province. A government focused on making life better for everyday families simply cannot ignore this issue.
“We have increased funding for child care by about $72 million dollars this year. That means helping more parents access child care and increasing the number of child care providers and supporting them to get accredited. Whether you’re a parent in a larger community like Grande Prairie or a smaller one like Rycroft, you should be supported to choose the right care for your kids and that’s what our government is doing. By making early learning and child care more affordable, we can give our kids the best possible start in life.”
Florence encourages those who are interested in helping establish a new daycare service, to contact her at the Smoky River FCSS office in Falher.
Chiasson and Florence have had several meetings with the public since the beginning of 2018 to determine the need for a new daycare service in the region. In February, Crystal Marschner, who also works for Smoky River FCSS, developed an online survey for residents to fill out and the results were discussed during a meeting at the Town of Falher office in March.