Minister says public childcare centre can still happen
A publically funded childcare centre is still a possibility in Clarenville, according a government minister, but it will take another community organization to come on side and make it happen.
Last week The Packet reported the Department of Child, Youth, and Family Services turned down a proposal by Neighbourhood of Friends Family Resource Centre to renovate an office space on Laskey Place for use as a childcare centre at a cost of $300,000.
Paul Davis, the minister responsible for family services, says his department didn’t turn down the proposal, but offered further support so the organization could come up with more detailed plans.
Davis said he “doesn’t want to do any injustices to Neighbourhood (of Friends),” and said they are “a volunteer group that are doing good in the community.”
“We’ve offered to continue to work with them to develop the more specific information we require,” he said.
A spokesperson for Neighbourhood of Friends says the organization was offered $12,600 to further develop its proposal but turned it down because the lowest quote for floor plans alone was $40,000.
Due to lack of funding, the centre has given up on working with Child, Youth, and Family Services to set up a childcare centre in Clarenville, according to the chairman’s report.
“For the past year, our staff and Board have worked tirelessly to make affordable child care a reality for the Clarenville area,” it stated. “It is with great sadness that . . . we are no longer able to assist in the implementation of a publicly supported child care facility and program for the community. The amount of monies required and the support needed to bring the project from concept to reality is not available. Therefore, the Board has decided to discontinue its efforts at this time.”
Davis said with Neighbourhood of Friends out of the game it’s up to another community group to get a public childcare centre off the ground.
“If there’s any group within the community that have an interest, we’ll be quite pleased to speak to them about what’s involved,” he told The Packet. “If they’re genuine in their interest and want to go to the next steps of creating a business plan and developing floor plans we have a system of supports to them and we encourage any group in the community to come talk to us.”
After Christmas, Toddler's Corner on Manitoba Drive will close permanently due to lack of qualified early childhood educators. The privately-run daycare is one of only two regulated child care centres in the town. It’s been open for 18 years and cares for 23 children on a full-time basis. The closure will make the gap between supply of childcare in Clarenville and the demand wider.
Davis said he knows there is a need for more childcare spaces in Clarenville, and his department is open to partnerships with other groups.
“My goal isn’t to put up road blocks for any organization in the community that has an interest in developing a community-based child care centre,” he said. “We’re looking for what options that are available, not only for the centre, but for parents. We’re looking for economically viable operations as well.”