Cities can play a role in enhancing the local system of Early Learning and Child Care. Here's how.
I have had one or both of my daughters in child care for over 5 years. My husband and I both work, and we have access to a one-in-a-million dayhome that has become a second family for my kids. The schedule isn’t the most convenient. There’s a firm pickup and drop off time (8:30 - 4:00), it’s closed in the summer, Fridays and CBE holidays. I am very fortunate to have an understanding employer and flexible work schedule. I realize that I am in the lucky minority in so many of these cases, and I think Calgary can do more than leave child care up to luck.
I’ve often heard the argument that this is not the city’s jurisdiction. But it wasn’t that long ago (3 decades or so) that Calgary played a role and more, it was their business. The funding model of the day made it viable for Calgary to provide public child care. Once the funding model changed, the dollars still on the table were re-allocated to a newly formed after-school program.
I’m not necessarily advocating that the City get back in the business of providing child care services, but I do think there are some feasible opportunities to enhance the system. Consider:
Vancouver, Toronto, and now Edmonton as they seek to improve the delivery and access to quality, affordable child care. Vancouver has been doing it for years because they think it’s the right thing to do. Toronto (and all Ontario districts) is legislated to support the system, and Edmonton has provided funding for a 2-year initiative to create a strategy.
City Charters increase the decision-making, programming and taxation capacity of the City. Early Learning and Child Care should be a part of these discussions.
Enabling the adapted use of buildings owned by the City and its subsidiaries, including Calgary Housing, Recreation and community centres.
Leveraging the Government of Alberta’s child care pilot program and an increase of federal dollars in the last budget.
Explicitly embedding ELCC in existing City strategies and work, like Community Hubs, the Age-Friendly Strategy and Welcoming Communities Strategy.
Working with CBE on innovative models of construction that could include ELCC services.
I could keep going, but my point is that families and children aren’t concerned with jurisdiction. The need for child care is so acute when it is required, that it just needs to be there. And isn’t that the role of all orders of government? To ensure that critical services are available when needed? I think ELCC is a critical need and a critical service, and if elected I will proudly champion the cause. We’ll never see what’s possible if we don’t promote the social value of the service, the workforce, working moms and dads, and perhaps most importantly, the healthy and nurtured development of our youngest citizens.