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Scrambling for childcare

With increased teacher strike action looming on the horizon, parents around the province are scrambling to find additional childcare.

Rotating strikes at schools are slated to begin on Tuesday in the Okanagan.

Executive Director Michelle Dickie, of the Kelowna Child Care Society, says they have already heard from a number of childcare providers about the impending shortage of spots.

“They are looking for additional qualified early childhood educators to come into the program,” says Dickie, noting that KCCS doesn’t operate a childcare center itself, but offers support to those providers around the city.

“Also what they do is run infant toddler preschool programs during that time and so space is an issue as well, because they have to abide by licensing regulations.”

Those licensing regulations mean daycares and other similar facilities can only accommodate a certain number of children and anyone else receiving money will also have their own set of limitations.

“If a family friend or somebody is going to watch your child, they can only care for two children – in addition to their own,” explains Dickie.

“The concern is the care for children. Licensing regulations are there for a reason and its for the health and safety of the child.

The punishment for any individuals or facilities found to be in violation of these regulations are severe enough to possibly shut down the facility.

There are 4,014 childcare spaces in the Central Okanagan, but over 16,000 children of childcare age. The simple math is that most parents will have to find a solution come Tuesday.

“A lot of parents will either have to take time off or one parent will take work off and then take other friends children in for the day,” says Dickie, who found herself in a similar situation during the last teachers strike in 2011/2012 – something she called a stressful situation for everyone involved.

“For families and child care providers too. They want to care for the children and try to do the best they can, and its hard to say ‘No, I’m sorry. We can’t.’”

Relations between the BCTF and the provincial government have only intensified this week, with the BC Public School Employers Association threatening wage cuts if the strike goes ahead.

If your operation is offering programs for the day, send us the information and we will post a story outlining options for parents. Send information to [email protected]

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