Public meeting discussing future of five regionally operated child care centres
By: Date: December 3, 2020 Categories: meeting,Public,Uncategorized

The Region of Waterloo is holding a public meeting on Wednesday night to discuss the future of five child care centres in the community.

A report recommended the closure of the five centres, which are operated by the region.

Parents said they’re frustrated by that recommendation and private daycares are worried the closure could mean more challenges for an already strained system.

Maria Vermeer said she’s been feeling down since she learned her three-year-old’s daycare might close.

“It was really, really, hard,” she said. “I cried, I have to admit.”

Edith MacIntosh Children’s Centre is one of the centres that could close for good.

“The plan is out of touch with the reality of how hard it is to find quality care,” Vermeer said.

There will be 40 delegates, including Vermeer, at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I wouldn’t work if I couldn’t find a program of equal quality,” Vermeer said.

However, the region said there are other options. Officials said since the pandemic began, there are around 2,000 unfilled licensed child care spaces for children under the age of four.

The report said the closure could save the region around $6.8 million in annual operating costs, money that could be reallocated to help the 14,000 in the child care system.

Barb Cardow, director of children’s services with the region, said it uses 10.2 per cent of its budget to operate the spaces.

Alexandra Petrusic, owner of Elite Daycare, is worried the closures could put more strain on a system struggling during the pandemic.

“We have to keep staff, we have to have extra cleaning staff,” she said.

The daycare is operating at 60 per cent capacity, but Petrusic said she’s not sure they can expand after the pandemic.

“Unless there’s some kind of support coming from the region or the governments,” she said.

She said they were fully booked earlier this year.

The region said parents should sign up on the wait list, but officials said they don’t know how long it is due to the pandemic.

“We still have one list, a centralized wait list,” Cardow said. “But really, the data that’s in there is not accurate at this point.”

Vermeer said she said she signed up while she was still pregnant. Her second child might be safe from the closures, but her third is due in February.

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