Nfld. & Labrador

Few public daycare spots for children under 2 in Happy Valley-Goose Bay

Lower profits and recruitment issues make operators cautious about accepting under-twos.

Lower profits, recruitment issues make it unappealing for operators

Most people in Happy Valley-Goose Bay have no licensed options for child care for kids under two. (Rebecca Martel/CBC)

Despite the recent openings of new daycare facilities in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the town still has few licensed child-care spaces for children under two. 

That's because for many daycare operators lower profits and recruitment difficulties mean it's not worth it to take on children that young. In Happy Valley-Goose Bay, even with the opening of new buildings for Pumpkin House and Robin's Nest, the only registered spots for children under two are at the day care at the College of the North Atlantic, which are open to CNA students and employees, MUN students and staff, government employees, and the general public.

That largely leaves only private child-care providers for many people in the town.

Rhea Dale, president of the Early Childhood Development Association board, which operates Pumpkin House daycare, noted that provincial regulations generally require one early child educator, depending on the level of caregiver certification, for every three children under the age of two, while older children can be looked after in larger groups for every one early childhood educator.

That means less profit per child to look after infants, and Dale noted that there are extra costs to a daycare operator to accept children under two, including a separate room and individual cribs.

"It costs so much money to provide that care that people just will not do it in a licensed centre," she said. 

"They have to have their own room to sleep in, each one has to have their own crib, the ratio is one staff to three children."  

Rebecca Quehe, left, is an early childhood educator at Pumpkin House daycare in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and Rhea Dale is the president of the Early Childhood Development Association board, which operates Pumpkin House. (Alyson Samson/CBC)

Rebecca Quehe, an early childhood educator at Pumpkin House Daycare, said a daycare operator might include space for under-twos even if they take a hit on profits in the hope of keeping them when they get older.  

"It's a loss leader," she said. "You lose your money opening infant-care spaces with the hope that they'll continue on into your preschool and your school-age programs, where you'll recoup that funding."

Daycares need one early childhood educator for every three children under two, making it easier and more profitable to focus on older children. (Rebecca Martel/CBC)

It's difficult enough to get early childhood educators in the first place, said Dale. Just to get a trainee in the door, before they can apply to the early childhood education program there are a lot of barriers, she said, including the time it takes for a number of regulatory bodies to process vulnerable sector applications. 

"With Pumpkin House, we've hired people, and it's been so long in between that they've found other work, just trying to get the paperwork and it's not that the paper work is complicated, it's just a long process," Dale said. 

"It could take like 12 weeks sometimes, and in that time people's lives move on and they have to find work," she said. 

An emailed statement from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development noted there is supplement of between $12,900 and $16,900 per year available to qualified early childhood educators, based on position and level of certification, paid directly to the early childhood educator in addition to the wages paid by their employer.

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Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story said provincial regulations require one early childhood educator for every six children over the age of two. That is just one of the ratios for educators to children, which are dependent on caregiver certification.
    Dec 16, 2019 12:40 PM NT

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said there are no licensed child-care spaces for children under two open to the general public. In fact, the infant spots at the College of the North Atlantic are available to the public.
    Dec 16, 2019 12:51 PM NT

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