The Spring Creek campus of the Whistler Children’s Centre will
halt programs for Dandelions and Daisies aged three to 19 months, and Sprouts
and Blueberries aged 19 to 36 months.
The programs were cancelled because of a lack of staff with
Infant Toddler and Early Childhood Education certifications. The certifications
are required by the province.
A last-ditch effort to recruit qualified employees — as
well as to lobby the province to temporarily set aside its requirements and
speed up the recognition of out-of-province credentials — increased
awareness of daycare issues in Whistler, but ultimately could not save the
programs. The last day for infant programs at Spring Creek is Friday, Nov. 28.
“We are expecting to close this Friday, nothing has changed,”
said children’s centre coordinator Kari Gaudet. “We’ve had more conversations
with (Minister of State for Child Care) Linda Reid, with (West
Vancouver-Garibaldi MLA) Joan McIntyre, with (West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea
to Sky MP) John Weston, but at this point no one is able to help us.
“We have had quite a few applications to the centre, but most
are what we would call responsible adults or qualified assistants… but they
don’t have the full Early Childhood Educator designation that we require.”
Some 26 families, who were using the program at least one day a
week, will be directly affected.
The infant programs at Nesters will continue to run, although
the waitlist was cut off with more than 100 families looking for space.
According to Gaudet, some of the families that have used Spring
Creek have managed to get their children into infant programs at the Nesters
centre for at least a few days a week. This has happened because some families
voluntarily pulling their children out to make space for others, or because
Pemberton residents with jobs in Whistler have started to use the Pemberton
Other parents have shifted their work schedules to be home with
their children or to take advantage of available days at Nesters. Gaudet also
believes that some parents were attempting to group together to hire nannies
and create their own alternative to daycare, but she has not heard from any
parents that were successful.
“Other families are struggling, and phoning us on a regular
basis to ask if it’s still happening,” said Gaudet. “We know of one family that
may have to quit a job if something doesn’t change, because right now there are
no other child care options available to them.”
Gaudet emphasized that the children’s centre would continue to
work on the issue with governments and stakeholders, and to get creative in
recruiting and keeping staff. She pointed to a new parents committee that has
been formed, which is holding a fundraiser next week to help daycares with operating
“My biggest hope is that people will realize how much the
community relies on child care, and that people will support this event,” she
said. “It’s not just about parents, and whether their children are attending
now, or whether they are on the waitlist. This is an important issue for the
community, for employers that have employees that rely on child care, or people
that rely on services that these parents provide.”
The first annual Whistler Children’s Centre Silent Auction will
be held at Players Chophouse, Creekside, on Dec. 3 from 7 p.m. to midnight. All
members of the community are invited to attend the fundraiser, which will
include a silent auction, music with a DJ, tapas and wine, cash bar and door
prizes. The proceeds will go towards the centre’s operating costs and assist in
the recruitment and retention of qualified staff.
Tickets for the fundraiser are $55, and are available at The
Whistler Children’s Centre (Nesters), Moguls Café and the Hilton Whistler
Resort & Spa Concierge Desk.
Local businesses that are interested in donating silent auction items may contact Stacey Royal at 604-932-0507, or by e-mail at email@example.com. Tax donation receipts are available if desired.