MAPLETON ‒ As the first week of back-to-school comes to a close, problems accessing reliable childcare, let alone licensed facilities, remain at the top of many parents’ minds.
Mapleton mom Krista Bates said that her difficulties obtaining local childcare began a few years prior after she found out she was expecting twin boys during her second pregnancy.
Already balancing her job with finding before-and-after school care for her eldest daughter, while Bates signed up for multiple licenced facility lists and was constantly posting in parent groups, she soon learned that getting twins under two into care at the same time was nearly impossible.
“So just trying to find care while I was home on maternity leave was a process in itself,” said Bates. “I had a lot of support to help me look for (childcare) but it still wasn’t there.”
However, Bates’ struggles came to a head in July when her previous daycare took another opportunity and she chose to quit her job and return to school rather than go through the process of finding another childcare provider.
“(After I went back to work), I was still trying to pick the kids up and get them from A to B while trying to find childcare and go to work all at the same time,” said Bates. “At least the new course I’m taking and what I’ve decided to do is gonna end up being a lot more flexible so that I’m able to be there for my kids.”
While Bates understands her issues aren’t applicable to everyone, now that her daughter is school-age, she has since spoken to multiple parents about their difficulties finding childcare.
“It just seems like people are asking for help or needing care for their kids on the daily,” said Bates. “Like it’s just a constant problem no matter where you are in this area.”
Mapleton Mayor Gregg Davidson said in an interview that while he’s thankful for the existing home childcare options, as well as the Mapleton Co-operative Preschool, their community needs more.
Currently, Puslinch and Mapleton are the only two municipalities in Wellington County without their own licensed childcare facilities.
“Access to childcare in Mapleton continues to be a concern for many parents or potential parents,” said Davidson. “The lack of local childcare options is a barrier to new residents.”
While current provincial policy connects licenced childcare centres with local schools, the mandate requires that licensed facilities must be built upon lands adjacent to a school with limited exceptions.
According to Davidson, the two prime locations for licenced childcare are Moorefield and Drayton but because of community growth, neither of these public schools has the space.
In the meantime, Bates said getting into licensed facilities across the county is “already hard enough.”
“If Mapleton had more licensed facilities available, or a better support system to allow these home daycares to become licensed, that would probably help,” said Bates. “And maybe that would be an incentive for more homes to become a daycare as well.”
During a county social services committee meeting earlier this year, Davidson said that Mapleton plans to submit a proposal for funding to build a new Catholic school and licensed childcare facility to the province when the funding stream re-opens.
“We have made it very clear to (the province) of our need in Mapleton…we are in a childcare desert and we need it to rain childcare dollars,” said Davidson. “We need to get (a new facility) built. We have a plan and a location. We now need them to approve and finance it.”
For parents still searching for solutions, Bates said the best advice she can give is to reach out to other parents for community, resources, and alternative ideas.
“Being able to amend your plan is probably my best advice because things don’t always go according to plan,” said Bates. “If I’ve learned anything from becoming a parent, and thinking we’re just gonna have two kids, you just have to learn to go with the flow.”
Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.
By Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Sep 11, 2023 at 07:05