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Community News: May Is Child Care Month
By Lisa Wild. In the media, there is often talk of how spaces are not available in daycares in BC. But I know first hand that that is not true. Spaces are available in some great Daycares … including mine.
And they have been available for the last year or two. For reasons unknown, though probably related to the economy and the cost of living, there seems to be a lull in number of families requiring daycare locally and lots of grandma’s now seem to be watching over their grandkids.
With stories in the news last month, about Vancouverites paying $1900.00 per child, per month, for care, it is no wonder people are panicking. Childcare in the Fraser Valley hasn’t reached those pricey numbers yet … not even close. In fact my kids sometimes get paid more per hour for babysitting and dog sitting than I do for running a very high quality learning environment. Families are moving out to the Fraser Valley all the time, knowing they can put the majority of the $1900.00 towards their mortgage and still cover daycare costs for a child. That said; finding the cheapest daycare isn’t always the best idea.
With May being Childcare Month in BC, I thought I would highlight a misunderstood type of daycare – Family Daycare. Not to be confused with a neighbour taking in kids, or a babysitter, a Licensed Family Daycare is a legitimate daycare in a family home.
In family daycares, the training of staff can be diverse, from teachers, youth workers, early childhood educators, and others with no recognized degree but years of training and experience that could justifiably equal that of a diploma or degree.
Some may have the most basic training or only what is required. When looking for childcare, whether a large group centre or small private home set-up, it is really important to investigate exactly what training and knowledge the care provider has and how they actually put it into practice. Don’t let a mound of certificates fool you … it is possible to get certificates and not listen to workshop content.
Some family daycare operators choose to run a program of activities with structure and a focus on learning. Others don’t. The quality of a program, whether group daycare, preschool, or family daycare, should always be analyzed by the family selecting an environment for their child. Having some programming and some unstructured time is really what is in the best interest of the developing child. Children will do much better in their school years if they have a variety of learning experiences in the early years.
Occasionally people feel there are safety and security issues using a daycare in a home. I do not have statistics but have followed news stories over the years, and the odds for safety and security are similar in all environments. All adults, and anyone over twelve years of age, must have a security check done by the RCMP in all licensed childcare environments.
After that, parents should do their own checking of safety and security backgrounds or training. Some daycares spend the whole day indoors or within their fenced area. You would have to observe in the facility. My daycare, and many others, get out and about in the community, which is really great for the kids but also opens the door to scrutiny.
Pay attention to what you see at the library, playgrounds, and school yards. You can learn a lot about different daycares by watching what they do out in public.
I have heard stories about bigger centres appearing more authentic. Whether family daycare, group daycare or preschool, all licensed facilities must have policies on child abuse; who children can be released to; nutrition; discipline; reportable incidents; administering medication and topical use of everything from wipes to sunscreen, emergency procedures; along with other information on the child and family.
This can make for some thick policy manuals but having things in writing is the best place to start a relationship in childcare. What might seem cumbersome at the beginning soon will become a relief, knowing that your child is spending their day in a safe and secure environment with strategies in place. Things change a lot between the time you first need care, and the years that follow. Having the stability of a written contract will protect everyone and limit surprises.
So what about those other homes in your neighbourhood with lots of kids? It is not uncommon for unlicensed daycares to say they are licensed, or about to be licensed, as a way of attracting clients. But licenced facilities have a license from Fraser Health diplayed on their wall. They will also have a Business License from the City, insurance, a first aid certificate near by, along with a fire plan, extinguisher, and certificates related to their training.
Whether you have been inside an unlicensed daycare or just notice things from outside, anyone can check if the home/business is licensed; or report the address to Licensing, and they will check. Parents and children really have limited protection or recourse choosing unlicensed care, no matter how great the price may seem. And children all deserve the best and safest daycares available. Licensing is contacted through the Public Health offices of Fraser Health Authority. Phone: 604.476.7000
Maple Ridge Public Health Office Contacts: http://www.fraserhealth.ca/find_us/locations/our_locations?site_id=1723
Press Release: B.C. Celebrates Child Care Month, May 2012: http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2009-2013/2012CFD0026-000573.pdf
Fraser Health Child Care webpage: http://www.fraserhealth.ca/your_environment/ccfl/child-care-facilities/
Local Child Care Resource & Referral Program: http://www.childcarechoices.ca/main/Fraser+Valley/Maple+Ridge/
North Fraser Family Child Care Association: http://northfraserchildcareassociation.wordpress.com/
Lisa Wild, Wild and Wonderful Family Daycare has some awesome spaces available for families who are looking for childcare.