LETTER: Lack of reliable daycare options

Low-income and/or single parent families have little choice outside of normal daycare hours

I have an idea I think would be a great benefit to Abbotsford, however, I don’t have the contacts or resources to be able to make it work.

The idea results from the situation of a friend, although I know she isn’t the only parent in Abbotsford who experiences this difficulty. She is a very low-income single mom. She and her children live below the poverty line even though she is employed full-time.

There are so many issues involved in her situation, but the one I’d like to address is the lack of reliable daycare options available to low-income and/or single parent families outside of normal daycare hours – parents who have to work evenings/weekends/shifts.

My friend has no family in town. She has in the past served suspensions from work for not being able to attend her shift because she had a babysitter cancel with no notice.

She works every weekend and three days during the week. Her children were attending a before-and-after-school program, but it only operates Monday to Friday and closes at 6 p.m. She usually works until 7:30 p.m. and sometimes until 9.  She works for a large company and has no control over scheduling.  She has no choice but to work the shifts she is offered.

She had found a licensed daycare to watch her boys after school. Within the first few days, this “professional” cancelled with no notice.  My friend had to leave work to pick up her children and had no one to watch them for the rest of her shift. As a result, her employer has placed her on probation and she is back to square one in terms of her seniority, etc. She may lose her job because she can’t find reliable child care.

Not every family in Abbotsford fits the typical model for daycare services.  Our community needs to step up with services for families who don’t fit the current mould.

My proposal would target mainly “inner city” families. Low-income, single parent families. This program should be based out of a recreation facility like ARC/MRC or even a school with a gym, as many of these families cannot afford organized recreational activities for their kids.

There should be a meal component factored in as well, because there are so many children who don’t have healthy meals provided for them at home. I’m envisioning a partnership between the city (specifically the parks and recreation department), the provincial government (for helping to fund a pilot program), a community-based childcare organization like the Hand in Hand Child Care Society and other daycare providers, perhaps a local grocery store. Possibly even the school district in terms of allowing qualified staff to supervise high school students as part of their volunteer requirements (i.e. if they planned to go into teaching, etc.)

I have this huge idea, but I have no idea how to go about executing it. Any thoughts?


Shelley Godwin