East Ferris working to increase childcare space


There are not enough childcare spaces in East Ferris, so the municipality recently sent a delegation to the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference to ask for more.

Mayor and council members had a meeting with the Ministry of Education earlier this week to explain the childcare situation in the municipality, and overall, the presentation went well. Members of the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board (DNSSAB) were also there, as this organization oversees not-for-profit childcare within the municipality.

The delegation’s presentation was aptly titled, “Added Capacity for Child Care for East Ferris,” so it was clear what delegation members had come for. Mayor Pauline Rochefort explained that currently there are enough spots for 18 per cent of East Ferris’ children. The community continues to grow as well, as new housing keeps sprouting up and many of those are filled with young families.

“We’re growing, and we need more capacity for childcare services,” Mayor Rochefort said. “There is a lack of capacity for childcare in East Ferris,” and it’s clear from speaking with parents that “they want their youth to grow up in the community.”

East Ferris has two daycares, one located at Ferris Glen Public School in Corbeil and the other within the Ecole Elementaire Catholique Saint-Thomas D’Aquin in Astorville. Both facilities are praised within the community, and according to parents with kids in care, the caregivers are top-notch. There are no complaints about the quality of childcare in East Ferris from these folks, the issue is simply one of capacity.

The municipality has been aiming on adding more spaces since it began work on its Community Safety and Well-Being Plan last summer. Thousands responded to surveys related to that plan, and one thing that really stood out was a concern about childcare, and how there was not enough within the community.

See: East Ferris safety plan survey shows 84% of residents happy with the community

That resonated with mayor and council, and steps are underway to remedy the issue. But it’s not going to happen overnight, and don’t expect any miracles by fall, either. For although the delegation to meet the Ministry of Education was well-received, there were no commitments made from the province to help in the immediate future, so the municipality will continue to work on securing those spots.

Specifically, the municipality want more spaces, more funding for staff, and more physical space for the childcare centres. Right now, there are 110 kids on a waiting list, and this list “continues to grow,” Mayor Rochefort said.

As more children are coming, “it’s important that we make our case now” to the province, she added. The next step is coming, Mayor Rochefort said. This past July, the municipality put together a survey about childcare and shared the results with DNSSAB. The findings of that survey are being finalized in a report, which will be released soon. This will help build the case for increased childcare within the community and provide more proof to the province of the need for more spots.

See: Thoughts on childcare in East Ferris? Time to share

The process is one “of many steps,” Mayor Rochefort said, but the municipality is prepared to make those steps and embark on the journey to improve childcare in the community.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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