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Daycare spaces remain scarce in some Yukon communities

Parents in Yukon now have subsidized daycare, but in some communities there is a shortage of available space.

One waiting list in Dawson City remains 'probably three years' says president of daycare board

The playground at the Little Blue Early Care & Learning Centre in Dawson City, one of many daycare facilities in the territory that are at maximum capacity. (Little Blue Daycare)

Parents in Yukon now have subsidized daycare, but in some communities there is a shortage of space.

Heather Menzies is a parent in Dawson City who is on that community's waiting list.

"It's great that it's been subsidized and it's an affordable place to send your child. It's just a matter of having the space to send them," she said.

We need a new building desperately. Local women cannot get back into the workforce, it's hugely problematic. Eventually the [parental leave] runs out.- Sarah Cook, board president, Little Blue Early Care & Learning Centre, Dawson City

Both the Tr'inke Zho Childcare Centre and the Little Blue Early Care & Learning Centre in Dawson City are at maximum capacity with room for 80 children in all.

The waiting list at Little Blue has 34 children registered.

Sarah Cook, president of the board for Little Blue, says parents are told a waiting list is "probably three years."

Parents hoping for space at Tr'inke Zho are asked to wait until at least 2022.

Cook says the daycare's board has long been looking for funding for a new building which would allow the service to expand and hire more staff. 

"We need a new building desperately. Local women cannot get back into the workforce, it's hugely problematic. Eventually the [parental leave] runs out," she said.

The daycare in Old Crow is also at capacity. Trinin Tsul Zzeh Fdh is licensed for six children but recently that has changed to four as a staff member is on parental leave.

COVID-19 restrictions mean fewer available spaces

In some communities, restrictions related to COVID-19 have limited daycare space.

In Carcross, the Haa Yatx'i Hidi Daycare is preparing to accept more children as rules are relaxed.

"During COVID-19, only CTFN staff could have spots. That has lifted now," said Stuart Burnett, who works in a communications role with the Carcross/Tagish First Nation (CTFN).

"Currently it's not at full capacity for children but we expect it will and exceed that in summer as more people seek employment again after the pandemic and need daycare space."

One Yukon community with daycare space right now is Watson Lake. (Watson Lake Daycare)

Some daycare managers say finding and hiring qualified staff is another challenge.

In Teslin, the Dluwkat Hit daycare is licensed for 33 children but now has 27 as a maximum due to a lack of staff. 

That daycare now has a waiting list with three or four children, said manager Patty Wiseman.

Some communities do have space available

One community with daycare space is Watson Lake, which marks a remarkable turnaround considering previous challenges keeping a daycare open.  

Angela Winsor, manager of the Watson Lake Daycare, says it has space available for 15 children before reaching its legal limit of 45. Watson Lake also has a full roster for staff.

In Faro, there are five spaces available at Bubble's Faro Daycare said staff member Kiran Kaur. That daycare would have a maximum of 17 spaces.

CBC also contacted daycares in Mayo, Pelly Crossing, Carmacks and Burwash Landing to talk about the situation in those communities, but calls were not returned.

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