Staff shortage forces closure of Spring Creek programs 

No certified staff for children from three months to three years

Whistler Children’s Centre executive director Kari Gaudet wants people to be upset by a decision to close two programs for the youngest children at the Spring Creek day care. She wants parents to learn the reasons why, and for people to take the issue to their elected officials.

“I don’t know if there’s a made-in-Whistler solution to it,” she said. “I think the Whistler solution is to work together as a community, to rally the government. I think the changes have to come at the provincial or federal level.”

As of Nov. 28, Spring Creek will no longer offer its Daisies program for children aged three months to 18 months, and the Blueberries program for children aged 18 months to 36 months. The reason is staffing — there are just not enough staff with B.C.-approved Infant Toddler (IT) certifications or comparable certifications from other provinces for the centre to comply with government regulations.

“I’ve spoken to so many day care centres in the last little while, through the corridor, in the Lower Mainland, and across B.C, and everyone says that staffing is their largest problem right now and more specifically IT certifications. I told them the problems with our centre, and they said we’re probably just the first of many (to cut programs).”

According to Gaudet, the Spring Creek centre was up for its annual licencing inspection, and knew they were not in compliance with provincial requirements. Gaudet met with the inspector and told her the situation.

“It was clear to her that we were in a desperate time and that we were doing the best we could while not adhering to the licencing regulations,” said Gaudet. She was able to get a temporary exemption for two teachers at the Nesters facility because the inspector decided their Australian and Ontario IT certificates were comparable or better than the B.C. standard. However, the staff at Spring Creek did not qualify as they were still in training and did not have transferable qualifications.

Each teacher was able to look after up to eight children per day for a total of 16 lost day care spots. Since different families use the service on different days, Gaudet says 26 families will be directly affected by the closure of the programs. Some of those parents joined the waitlist to get into the Nesters facility, but with 96 families on the waitlist there is little chance they will get in.

Gaudet says they are optimistic about their chances of finding new staff with the appropriate certifications by Nov. 28, but she says they are also being realistic.

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