KDSB delivering free emergency child care services for front line workers across the region
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
The Kenora District Services Board (KDSB) has announced the delivery of free emergency child care services to essential front line workers across the region, including Sioux Lookout.
“The Kenora District Services Board (KDSB) is working in partnership with community- based licensed child care providers to deliver emergency child care free of charge to essential front line workers. Child care providers in Kenora started offering emergency child care spaces for essential service workers on Tuesday, April 14. The remaining programs will be phased in. The following community-based licensed child care centres will be offering emergency child care services:
• New Prospect Early Learning Centre, Dryden
• FIREFLY Child Care, Kenora
• Kid’s Zone Lakeside, Kenora
• Moozoons Child Care, Red Lake
• Waninawakang Child Care Centre, Sioux Lookout,” the April 16 KDSB news release states.
The KDSB confirmed that the Sioux Lookout location has been phased in as of April 16. They said they’re providing their services for 13 children so far with additional spots still available.
“Because of the restrictions with regards to school boards, and the ones with school spaces, across the district the first operators we reached out to were operators that had standalone locations… In Sioux Lookout that is now the Waninawakang Child Care Centre, so they opened April 16. They’ve amended their hours in order to meet the needs of the individuals that had applied with us at that point, and they can be amended further if there’s an additional need identified. Their hours right now are 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Sioux Lookout. To date we’ve had eight applications in Sioux Lookout, providing service to 13 children,” said Sarah Stevenson, KDSB Director of Integrated Social Services.
“We have 15 spaces in total available currently. There are still spots available, so we haven’t had to deny anybody any service. Because of the nature of the individuals accessing the service, so because they’re on shift schedules, we have children that are sharing spaces. One family might need it on Monday and Tuesday and then the next family needs it Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday just as an example, so we’ve been able to meet all the needs of the applications we’ve received thus far.
“We haven’t identified this yet but, if additional need is identified in the application process, then we will look at expanding additional services. In that case we would reach out to the school boards as well as the municipality to see if both organizations are in a position that we could look at potentially opening spaces. We haven’t found that yet,” Stevenson explained.
The KDSB confirmed that the emergency child care services will be available throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. They said additional health and safety requirements have been implemented at the child care centres.
“We have specialized health and safety requirements that we’ve implemented with public health locally, which includes screening and reduced ratios in order to have smaller groups. To the best of the programs ability, the effort is to keep siblings together,” said Stevenson.
The KDSB said those who are eligible can apply on their website.
“The criteria for eligibility focusses on health care professionals, paramedics, doctors, nurses, medical specialists, hospital support staff, police, fire, dispatch, corrections and other essential services. To apply, please visit the KDSB’s homepage: www.kdsb.on.ca and download their fillable form. Once eligible workers complete and submit the online application, they will be contacted by the operator in their community if space is available,” the media release concludes.