Some B.C. daycares limiting hours, turning away kids because of staff shortages

January 12, 2023

A shortage of staff is forcing some daycares in B.C. to temporarily close or shorten their hours.

It’s happening as the province’s $10-a-day daycare program has increased demand in a sector plagued by low wages and staff burnout.

Alison Merton, director of the early years programs for Collingwood Neighbourhood House in Vancouver, said without enough staff to fill in when early childhood educators are sick, its child care centres have been forced to close for one or two days some weeks or ask parents to pick up their kids earlier.

“In the past two years, we’ve had to close programs temporarily, whether it’s for a day or two, or shorten hours for the week … in order to meet the licensing regulations for ratios and also the qualifications that are required for those specific programs, especially in infant and toddler care,” said Merton, who oversees the neighbourhood house’s 13 child care programs with 350 spaces.

In some cases, after-school care was suspended because staff was sick.

“We have significant wait lists for certain age groups and we would like to expand but we can’t consider that right now with … the recruitment and retention issues,” Merton said.

Her experience is backed up by a report released Wednesday that evaluated B.C.’s plan for recruiting and retaining child care workers, which was launched in 2018. The report found 45 per cent of child-care centres are losing more staff than they can hire and 27 per cent of employers turned away children because of a lack of qualified staff.

Emily Gawlick, executive director of the Early Childhood Educators of B.C., which released the report, said she’s heard from many child-care centres that can’t open to full capacity because they don’t have enough qualified staff.

Source: Vancouver Sun