Facilities around Kelowna are scrambling to accommodate the expected influx of children needing daycare, as the ongoing teacher strike is not expected to be resolved by the time school starts on Sept 2.
The Kelowna Child Care Society says changes are being made within the existing childcare program, with executive director Michelle Dickie noting there has been a 10-20 per cent increase in calls from parents.
She goes on to say that licensed daycare spots are quickly evaporating and now some parents are banding together to care for each other’s children.
“People have been really supporting each other in regards to sharing child minding,” Dickie says, but warns parents to review regulations concerning how many children can be cared for at one time.
She has also fielded numerous complaints from parents frustrated by the government’s announcement of a $40 per day allowance.
“A lot of parents will budget for summer care, and then having to come up with money to pay for child care, and they were looking towards that $40 per day,” she says.
“However, my understanding is that’s not actually going to come back to parents until the labour dispute is resolved.”
Another issue arises when parents can’t find childcare and are forced to consider day camps, where costs can sometimes be more than the government’s daily allowance.
“The $40 per day will help, but they’re not going to get it until the labour dispute ends, so it’s really putting some pressure on parents that didn’t budget for care in September, October, or didn’t need childcare (during the summer)."
Other options for parents include Parkinson Rec Centre and the YMCA.
The City is offering a Fall sports and activity camp beginning Sept. 2 that will run from 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. It will include a variety of sports, games, and fun activities for children between the ages six to twelve years old.
And the YMCA of the Okanagan will also offer child care programming during the week from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This camp will also offer an opportunity for kids to spend time at the H2O Adventure and Fitness Centre -- campers at the H2O centre will have activities run until 4:30 p.m.
Those camps will include games, nature hikes, themed crafts, team challenges, and swimming.
Parents in need can either contact Parkinson, the YMCA, or the Kelowna Child Care Society to review any available options.