Continued long waitlists for municipal daycare
Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla - Staff Writer
The two municipally operated daycares, Sioux Mountain Children’s Centre, and Biidaaban Children’s Centre, continue to hold long waitlists for infant and toddler intake.
Municipal Day Care Manager Gisele Southwell shared, “Historically, our infant and toddler lists are extensive and they continue to be. Currently waiting lists for unborn, preschool, kindergarten and school agers do exist but aren’t as high. There are no fees charged for being on a wait list and children can be on the wait list for 2-3 years before securing a spot. Unfortunately, some children will age into school before they are able to secure a spot in our programs.”
Southwell shared that at this time, the daycares are not operating before and after-school kindergarten and school aged programs. Toddler and preschool programs are operating at half capacity due to staffing shortages.
“Ensuring the health of the staff and children continues to be our top priority. Daycare hours are currently 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Hours have been shortened by a half hour at each end of the day so that staff have time to ensure the spaces are cleaned and prepared for the children. Ensuring that we have enough PPE was an issue at the beginning, this seems to have settled somewhat and reserves are in place. We have not reached full licensed capacity at this point and potentially could open more spaces; however, staffing shortages continue to be a pressing issue,” shared Southwell.
Southwell mentioned that during the reopening of childcare serves in July 2020, a full review of the waitlist was conducted. Families were contacted to see what their needs were, and a large number of them asked to be taken off the waitlist, with some wanting to remain, but not requiring a space at that time.
Southwell shared that they are starting to see an increasing interest for childcare, again. She concluded, “Waiting lists have not shortened, and, in fact, have been increasing recently. We have had advertisements out for Casual/Supply staff for some time. If community members are interested in working for the childcare centres, we welcome them to send their applications in to Human Resources at [email protected].”
The Waninawakang Aboriginal Head Start and Waninawakang Children’s Centre are also licensed childcare services in the Sioux Lookout area.