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Creston has a childcare shortage - what’s being done to fix it?

Creston is currently experiencing a childcare shortage.
Creston Town Hall is seen in 2021. The city is in need of more childcare spaces. (Photo: Greg Nesteroff/Black Press Media file photo)

Creston is currently experiencing a childcare shortage.

Londa Morris, manager of finance and operations at Kootenay Employment Services (KES) shared some statistics highlighting the shortage with the Advance in an email.

KES opened a childcare facility called Blossom and Bud in 2018. Blossom and Bud was opened with the help of a grant from Columbia Basin Trust, after the closing of another local cente, which impacted several KES employees.

Morris said opening Blossom and Bud was a team endeavor.

“Many of our staff and parents came together to write the policy and procedures and complete renovations on the evenings and weekends; it was truly an inspiring initiative driven by parents who wanted to create a safe and accessible environment for their children.”

In 2022, Blossom and Bud became a prototype site as part of the province’s $10 a day childcare initiative.

In summer 2022, KES hosted a workshop to brainstorm solutions to Creston’s childcare shortage. This event incldued community stakeholders such as the Town of Creston, SD8, Childcare Resource and Referral Centre, Yaqan Nukiy Lower Kootenay Band, College of the Rockies, Regional District and RDCK staff, and several community partners who currently deliver services to children.

Morris highlighted three key roadblocks that are contributing to the lack of chilcare options in Creston.

First is the high cost of building, which makes it difficult to create a proposal for the ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund, says Morris.

A provincial shortage of early childhood educators also contributes to the problem. Although there are provincial and regional initiatives in place, including provincial wage top ups and the Columbia Basin Trust wage subsidy program, many childcare spaces are understaffed.

Finally, centres cannot access provincial subsidies unless their fees are below a certain threshold.

“For the Kootenay region, for ages 18-36 months (the age with the most critical need) the Kootenay region has the lowest threshold for CCFRI rates in the province, and many of the new centres we are working with are experiencing challenges making a financial model work under these financial restrictions,” said Morris in an email.

KES is taking intiatve to combat the issue with their new RED program.

This program supports three stream of entrepreneurship, one of which is childcare.

“As an employment services provider, we see firsthand the impacts on families who want to work but cannot find childcare. Lack of childcare is a serious economic issue for our community. Many community members have had to leave Creston because they have been unable to find care for their young children,” said Morris.