North

Dawson City daycare crunch means choice between work and kids

Tara Saunders is a single mom with two kids, 10 and 6. She usually works at a mining company in the summer. One of her kids just got a daycare spot. The other is still on the waiting list. Without daycare for both, she has had to take a more flexible temporary job.

'I can't afford not to mine in the summer because I make enough money to support my children'

Dawson City's Little Blue Daycare has been in use since 1979, but the town's Society for Children and Families says demand has gotten too high for the small space. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

A lack of daycare spaces in Dawson City is becoming a serious problem for some parents in the community.

Tara Saunders is a single mom with two kids, 10 and 6. She usually works at a mining company in the summer.

One of her kids just got a daycare spot. The other is still on the waiting list. Without daycare for both, she has had to take a more flexible temporary job.

"I can't afford not to mine in the summer because I make enough money to support my children," Saunders said. "And like I said, next month I'm hoping for one spot. I need two."

Dawson City's only public daycare has just 20 spots available, and a waiting list of as many kids. The building is too small and is badly in need of repairs, even after it received $50,000 from the Yukon government in March for some of the work.

A 2013 needs assessment urged the Yukon Government to build new childcare centres in Dawson City and Watson Lake, with daycare, prenatal nutrition and early childhood programs all under one roof.

On the road again

Angela Van Nostrand runs the local prenatal program. She said their building meets most of their needs, but it's located off Bonanza Creek road, which is far from the centre of town and too small for gatherings. She said that means they often have to provide transportation for families and have to rent space elsewhere when they want to have lunches or other events.

Angela Van Nostrand, who runs Dawson City's prenatal nutrition program, says the service has a good location now, but had to move four times in three years. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)
While the prenatal program has been in its new location for a year, Van Nostrand said before that, the program had to move four times in three years. "We have not had the greatest luck when it comes to locations, mostly due to people selling the houses that we were located in," she said. "So it has provided some instability as far as our location goes."

She said a consolidated centre would help local families.

"It would make things a lot more simple for them especially in the winter months when it's 40 below."

Caretakers scarce

For Saunders, the lack of childcare is crucial issue facing many parents in Dawson City, who she said face an unappealing decision: working or taking care of their kids. It's even tougher in the summer, when more service industry jobs become available and shrink the pool of available babysitters, she said, which is why Dawson needs more daycare space.

"It's one of the most important things for just about anybody I know in Dawson," she said.

The Dawson Society for Children and Families, which runs the daycare, has plans for a new daycare facility. Chair Elise McCormick said the society needs to finalize a land deal with the City of Dawson before it can approach the Yukon government for the estimated $1 million needed for a new building.

The society plans to bring its proposal to town council in July.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now