Parents satisfied with Whistler's Kids on the Go—but registration can be improved 

This year's registration takes place at 6 a.m. on Aug. 11

click to enlarge WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM. - ON THE GO Whistler's Kids on the Go program has parents mostly satisfied, outside of some ongoing frustrations around registration.
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  • ON THE GO Whistler's Kids on the Go program has parents mostly satisfied, outside of some ongoing frustrations around registration.

Most parents are satisfied with Whistler's Kids on the Go (KOTG) program, according to a survey conducted in June, but almost half said they were unsatisfied with the current registration process.

As it stands, parents are asked to line up in person to register for the entire year of programming. This year registration starts Aug.11 at 6 a.m.

In recent years, in-person registration has meant that some parents have lined up overnight, or in the pre-dawn hours, to make sure they would get their kids in the licensed-care program. Caregivers would be given a registration number starting at 6 a.m. and asked to come back at or after 9 a.m.

Wrote one survey respondent: "The fact that the absolutely ridiculous situation of parents lining up overnight was so widely known throughout the community and that the admin did zero to solve that massive problem is a complete fail of a response.

"Line up overnight just to get a shot at maybe getting kids in? Really? Because parents aren't already run into the ground tired and have so much free time."

This year in-person registration will start right at 6 a.m. Parents on site will be given a registration number with an estimated time of when to return to complete their child's registration.

The switch to a start time of 6 a.m. was based on feedback from parents, said manager of recreation Roger Weetman, in a presentation to council on July 23.

"There's no good time to do registration," Weetman said.

"We'll serve the first six people at six o'clock, and have, for example, the next six come back at 6:30 a.m.

"We've got a bit of a staggered approach on that and we think that will help, and we've had to really kind of be hard and firm on our proxy rule, meaning basically one person per family."

The RMOW is advising parents to go to whistler.ca/communitykidsprograms before registering to make sure the KOTG days they want match up with community programs such as skating and other after-school sports and arts programs. This will help with double booking of programs or parents dropping out of days.

For example Whistler Tennis Academy has a Wednesday/Thursday program with school pick up and a snack and Whistler Sports Legacies is operating an afterschool program at Spring Creek two days a week (Monday and Wednesday).

Weetman acknowledged that some "software shortcomings" in the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) registration software means online registration won't be an option for full-day Kids On the Go programs," until Aug. 14. This is the first time caregivers have been able to register for full-day KOTG online. (Parents cannot register online for after-school programs.)

Also, the way the software is set up, parents can't register more than one child at a time, Weetman explained.

Some councillors had concerns about the software failure, noting that there are other programs-TeamSnap being just one example-that allows online registration for multiple kids at once.

But the "broad requirements" needed by the RMOW narrowed the field down to two or three providers, Weetman said.

"What's unique about the recreation software is you're looking for a multi-faceted software that can do bookings, it can do point of sale, it can do program registrations," he said.

The RMOW opted to move to the new software, provided by B.C.-based developers PerfectMind, last summer, when a required update under the old software would have resulted in higher annual fees.

Whistler is one of 22 municipalities that banded together to source the software.

"They are challenged to kind of keep up with what the customers are wanting," Weetman said.

There is collaboration amongst the communities, and "regular meetings" happening with the software provider to address the issue, he added.

Sorting out online registration needs to be made a priority, said Councillor Ralph Forsyth.

"Lining up to do something like that just doesn't seem acceptable to me in this day and age with all the technology and IT and the millions of dollars we spend on IT," Forsyth said.

"We've got to do a better job of that for those families."

The RMOW has offered licensed school-age childcare through KOTG since 1991. The program offers afterschool care on school days and full-day care programs during statutory holidays, holidays and summer-break weekdays for kids aged five to 12.

Find more here.

-With files from Clare Ogilvie.

This story was updated Aug. 2.

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