I often hear parents discussing their difficulties finding child care arrangements in the town of La Salle.
This situation reached a crisis level when, on Sept. 9, a local, unlicensed, home daycare received a letter from the provincial department of Family Services and Housing stating it had learned that children may be being cared for in the home.
The options stated in the letter were: to operate privately with no more than four children; to pursue licensing as a family child care home; or to cease providing care.
Parents had been taking their children to this daycare with full knowledge there were more than the allowed number of children attending. They say they trusted this care provider, as she was competent and managed the children safely.
The situation left several families scrambling to find alternative arrangements in an already overloaded and underfunded system. The only alternative available was to find daycare centres in Winnipeg.
Meanwhile, the La Salle KIDZ daycare initiative has been working towards building a not-for-profit child-care centre in the community for some time. Child and Family Services is aware of the crisis in La Salle and is in contact with Jennifer Penner to assist her in moving the daycare initiative forward.
Local councillors Robert Turski and Paul Pfrimmer have been in contact with Jennifer Howard, the Minister of Family Services and Labour, in an effort to find solutions.
A meeting was held on Oct. 1 to discuss starting a before- and after-school child care program in La Salle. Stakeholders invited included La Salle School, La Salle Nursery School, La Salle Parent Advisory Council, La Salle Community Centre, La Salle Child Care Committee, J.A. Cuddy Child Care Centre, Macdonald Healthy Child, and Manitoba Family Services Child Care Branch.
The explosive growth in housing development in the communities of La Salle, Oak Bluff, and Sanford is making many parents wonder where the new tax dollars are being spent and if more of them could be directed toward resources for families.
Some fear the lack of services for young families will be a deterrent to future growth and might even drive some families away.