FALL RIVER: The Minister for the department of Education and Early Childhood Development says it’s status quo for Fall River Childcare Centre, despite online posts to the contrary that the owners are getting nowhere, and their funding is in jeopardy.
In an online post and as part of their GoFundMe page, owners Molly Rogers and Lindsay Awalt said their small licensed childcare centre (30 licensed spots) in Fall River took a huge financial hit during the pandemic. They also struggled to fill their morning preschool program due to the new pre-primary that went into the two local elementary schools in the area.
“We were encouraged by staff of the Early Learning and Childcare Branch to switch from two-part day programs (morning preschool & school age care) to a full day program (toddler & preschool age),” said the post. “So, on May 27 we submitted our License Change Request to our ECDC Consultant, and she forwarded it off.
During the next few weeks, the two informed the school age families they would no longer be offering after school care this following school year.
“We immediately started our work to make the program change, all while running nine weeks of school aged summer camp,” said the letter.
It continued saying they added a sink, change table, extra fencing, purchased sleep cots, and all appropriate toddler materials.
“We made all of these changes out of our own pocket,” said the letter.
More than 15 families enrolled for the new full day childcare program, and they hired two level 2 Early Childhood Educators, one of which started immediately, and one was to start by October.
A licensing officer was out Sept. 8 for the final inspection, which had no issues, and he assured the two they would have their license by Monday. But on Sept. 10, that was not to be as they were advised they would not be getting it with no explanation.
The next week, according to the letter, they were told they had three options. 1) be issued this new license with the new age range but they could no longer receive funding (QIG & ISG); 2) use and keep their current and keep their funding; or 3) turn into a not-for-profit centre and they would get the license and receive the funding.
Minister Becky Druhan said in a statement on the night of Oct. 7 that there has been no change to the centre’s licence or funding. The centre confirms they are still licensed under the old program (part day and school age), and the license they were changing to had still not been issued. Rogers said they have been waiting four weeks for the new license they are changing too.
“The centre continues to receive the same amount of funding as always,” said Druhan.
She confirmed the owners had approached the department regarding a licence change.
“We continue to have discussions with the Centre about its future,’ she said.
Druhan said the province is aware how vital childcare services is, and they continue to ensure it’s available province wide.
“We understand the importance of access to childcare in our province,” she said. “We continue to work diligently to ensure families have access to quality and affordable childcare.”
Awalt said that no one spoke to her or Rogers about how the federal plan for child care was going to impact N.S. and the province’s decision when they signed the deal July 13 to not issue new licenses.
“For two months we kept constant and weekly communication with our ECDC Consultant and the department,” she said. “We are very confused, devastated, and essentially unemployed. We are in compliance with licensing and our program has enrollment.
“This is our livelihood, our dream, and we have worked tirelessly to follow the process they laid out for us.”
A GoFundMe has been setup to help the Childcare centre raise enough money to continue to operate. It can be found at: https://gofund.me/576c06e7 .