Parents are finding ways to cope with the closure of infant programs at the Spring Creek campus of the Whistler Children’s Centre, but are unanimous that they want the service back as soon as possible.
On Nov. 28, the Whistler Children’s Centre was forced to cancel programs for children aged three months to 36 months because of a lack of instructors with provincially recognized Infant Toddler and Early Childhood Educator credentials. Roughly 26 families were using the infant services on at least a part-time basis, with roughly 100 other families on the waitlist for one or more days.
The Whistler Children’s Centre was able to accommodate many of the displaced parents at the Nesters campus for at least a few days, largely thanks to parents that voluntarily withdrew their children to make space for others. However, with the growing waitlist and spare capacity at Spring Creek, parents would like to see the programs restored as soon as possible.
Ryan Donohue, chair of the Whistler Children’s Centre parent committee, said he knows of a few families that haven’t been able to find an alternative to Spring Creek, and many others that have been forced to change their schedules.
“A few I know of, and this is myself included, were not able to get all the days we needed,” he said. “Some of us have supplemented those days with home daycares. A few individuals in the community who are mothers decided they wanted to be home with their kids, and that they had the ability to take on one or two other children. It’s less structured because it’s out of someone’s house and it’s a little more expensive, too, but it’s definitely an option that has helped parents.”
Instead of taking both of his kids to Spring Creek in the morning, Donohue takes his youngest daughter to Nesters three days a week and to a home daycare one day a week. His older boy was able to stay at Spring Creek.
“Basically that means I have two drops to make in the morning, and Thursday I have to take my daughter to an entirely different place,” he said. “It’s serviceable, but it’s not ideal by any means. It adds to the general hectic-ness of the day and it’s more difficult, but honestly I feel fortunate that I was able to get the three days at the Nesters facility. A lot of parents don’t have that option.”
With many kids enrolling in Whistler Blackcomb ski school programs through the winter, Donohue says there are only a handful of kids at Spring Creek, with only one program running for kids over the age of three.