The Sunshine Coast Early Childhood Development Planning Table will move forward with a plan to build a child care facility on the Coast for kids from birth to three years old, thanks in part to a child care survey that has demonstrated the need.
The planning table made creating the facility a strategic objective in 2010 after hearing about the need in the community; however, statistical data was required to get the ball rolling.
"The reason we really pushed to do this survey was a year ago the table had asked me to look into how and where we should put an infant/toddler centre and what kind of funding we could get. When I started that research, I realized that much of the funding, however minimal, had been cut," said Pam Richmond, member of the planning table.
With no grants available from the province, Richmond looked to local corporations and agencies, but found both wanted statistics to demonstrate an infant/toddler centre was needed.
"That's the reason we moved to doing this child care survey. We wanted really clear data on what the situation was for families, what their needs were, and what their preferences were," Richmond said.
The survey was launched last November, with an online version added in February. A total of 344 surveys were completed. The surveys were analyzed and included in a report presented to the planning table in September.
"We're thrilled with the number of responses," Richmond said, noting the 344 responses each represented a family unit. "So we're feeling really secure that it's a good indication of families on the Coast."
Questions in the survey asked where respondents lived, the ages of children in their home, how many of those children access child care including times and locations, what types of child care people preferred, how much people currently pay for child care and where and when respondents would like to access care.
The majority of parents said they currently use child care part-time, often provided by family members, and the statistics show the majority of kids needing care are four years old or younger.
The results also showed a need for more affordable, licensed day care on the Coast that can be accessed on a part-time basis.
"Families are struggling to cobble together whatever care they can afford and it seems people on the Coast do a lot of part-time work and on-call work, making it even more difficult to find care," Richmond said.
In an effort to help, the planning table is now moving ahead with their plan to create an infant/toddler care centre on the Coast.
"Now we're transitioning into phase two, planning," said Sarah Pond on behalf of the planning table. "This phase involves the formation of an action team tasked with setting the direction and identifying the best steps to move the project forward. What's needed now is membership on this action team - the individuals who can steer this rather monumental concept toward the end goal."
She hopes many will come forward to help while the information gathered is still timely.
"The last thing we want is to let this important report end up on the shelf gathering dust," Pond said.
Pond asks community members who want to get involved to email her at email@example.com or call 604-740-7884.
© Coast Reporter