“I think this will, in all likelihood, disproportionately affect working mothers who have to take care of childcare,” laments the Orillia administrator
Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) administrators are concerned about the closure of many YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka (YSM) before and after school programs across the county and are being forced to explore “creative” solutions for families who need the programs.
According to SCDSB President and Orillia Area Trustee Jodi Lloyd, five of YSM’s care programs have closed in the past year, with four more scheduled to close in 2022.
Of those, three programs have closed in Orillia and surrounding communities, Lloyd said, citing Rama Central Public School, Moonstone Elementary School and Brechin Public School. YSM recently announced that a fourth, the Uptergrove Public School program, will not be returning in September after its initial closure in December 2021.
“We have parents where both have to work now to survive, and we’re here in a small community, where we had daycare, and the YMCA is now saying daycare will no longer be available,” administrator Peter Beacock lamented. about the Uppergrove situation. at a council meeting earlier this month. “I think we’re going to keep losing programs, and for the most part it looks like it’s in smaller areas.”
At Uptergrove, Lloyd said the program averaged 13 children in the morning and 14 in the afternoon. She says the broader closure of before and after school programs in the county will affect many families.
“As I progress through the pandemic and things get back to normal, people who previously might have worked from home are being asked to come back to the office,” Lloyd said. “I think it will, in all likelihood, disproportionately affect working mothers who have to take care of childcare.”
Lloyd said school board staff will bring a report to their June meeting to start a discussion about finding solutions with YMS.
“I understand that many organizations face staffing challenges, but I also believe that organizations need to look for new and innovative ways to attract staff,” she said. “We need to…work together to serve these families.
“It is (our) intention to present a report at the June program meeting outlining… how the child care programs work, the before and after school programs, how it is determined who runs these programs, so that we can have a very thorough discussion because I too am very, very worried about this.
In an interview with OrilliaMattersLloyd pointed out that a major issue with keeping YSM programs open is staffing – an issue for many other businesses and services post-pandemic.
“So many industries are currently facing staffing issues and staff shortages, but I think the one thing we have learned from the pandemic is that we have to think outside the box, we have to find creative solutions. “, she said. “It’s very easy to close a program — it takes a lot more work and a lot more effort to find a solution.”
Lloyd pointed to how, at the height of the pandemic, teacher candidates who were still in college were allowed to teach in Ontario schools that were facing staffing shortages.
“If we wanted to keep schools open, we had to use all the available resources we had. I believe that when it comes to childcare, we are going to have to look for solutions to the shortage of staff,” she said.
She emphasized the importance of YSM Care Programs, as they are “the largest provider of child care services in Simcoe County,” and said she had an introductory meeting with YSM’s CEO.
“There are very few child care services in Simcoe County other than the YMCA,” she said. “As chairman of the board, I contacted the interim CEO of (YSM). We had a preliminary meeting on Friday afternoon where I shared our concerns as a board and trustees.
In a statement, Fiona Cascagnette, vice president of child and youth development for the area YMCA, confirmed that the before and after school program will not reopen in September and pointed to ‘record staff shortages’. in the Canadian child care industry.
“It’s been a tough year for all of us, especially our families and our YMCA children, who have had to carry a burden through the difficult months of the pandemic,” she said.
“The Canadian child care industry is experiencing record staffing shortages due to a number of factors, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
However, Cascagnette said the remaining 10 programs in the region will remain open and the organization is committed to expanding its presence in the region.
“The 10 active YMCA before and after school programs in Orillia and surrounding areas will remain open,” she said. “Our licensed child care programs in Orillia continue to provide quality care to nearly 500 children and their families, and we look forward to serving this community for many years to come.
“We are committed to working collaboratively with our industry partners to support the growth of our workforce in the region.