In quest of a forever home for child care

After school care in Sooke is a challenge for provider

ffordable daycare — and finding a daycare spot in general — is an ongoing challenge for parents in Sooke. And elsewhere.

In an article last year, CBC  found that B.C. monthly rates are the highest for any province or territory, averaging in at $850 for a two year old (“Child care by the numbers,” July 2013).

One consolation for parents is that as kids get older, the costs go down. School-aged kids who require only out-of-school care are cheaper, with an average cost of $347 a month.

Care facility operators also have their set of challenges.

Kids Quest Child Care Society is one of them. Kids Quest is unique on two fronts. First, it is a not-for-profit facility. As outlined on ChildCare.net, not-for-profit centres can receive government funding. But, in order to do so, they must be run by a board that is composed of at least 51 per cent parents. It is the parents’ involvement that determines the services and programs provided by the facility.

The other thing that makes Kids Quest unique is that they currently operate out of two local elementary schools. Running a facility on school grounds, though, does come with its challenges.

They currently rent space from the school district and run three before-and-after school care programs out of two local elementary schools. However, as the annual demands for classroom space change in Sooke, Kids Quest holds its breath at the end of every year to see what will be available for the year ahead.

The convenience of operating out of the elementary schools has both its perks and quirks. The best perk is that the children can often stay in the same building. The oddest quirk, manager and society coordinator Christine McGuinness points out, is the children at Saseenos elementary cannot play on the playground equipment — the stuff they play on while at school there — because the equipment does not pass the licensing requirement specific to the Kids Quest.

But the biggest quirk is not knowing where they will be in the year to come takes its toll. To address this, they are looking for a permanent location.

According to Harold Cull, the secretary-treasurer at SD62, it’s an annual challenge.

“We’re estimating space requirements on estimated enrolment,” he said, noting that accurate numbers are not available until the actual school year starts, and the final budget is not approved until June. Added to the complications is that Sooke is one of the few districts with growing enrolment. With the demands on space increasing, Cull admits “we are not in a position to commit to them” on a permanent full-time basis.

“We need to find a forever home,” said Andrea Brygadyer, a parent board member.

“We’ve spent this whole year looking for spaces,” said McGuinness.

In a perfect world, McGuinness would love to see a rent-to-own option, in a big house that is commercially zoned.

In the meanwhile, they will be at Sooke and Saseenos for another year, and continue their search for a forever home.

For parents looking for childcare for their children, there is a referral program available in Sooke. It’s called the Sooke Westshore Childcare Referral Program (CCRR). CCRR provides parents with a list of daycares, suggested questions you might consider asking in choosing child care, and child care subsidy applications for lower income families.

They can be reached at http://www.sfrs.ca/ccrr.html, or by phone at 250-642-5153.

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