OLDS — It looks like parents may have a place to send their kids after the Mountain View Child Care Society (MVCCS) closes at the end of this month.
In a news release, the Boys and Girls Club of Olds and Area (BGCOA) has announced it is looking at options to create an additional 40 child care spaces by July.
The club has been negotiating to not only utilize its current location on 50th Avenue between 51st and 52nd streets, but also expand back into its former home at 5021 51st St.
On June 15, the MVCCS announced on Facebook that it is ceasing operations as of June 30 and plans to liquidate its inventory.
MVCCS chair Mitch Thomson told the Albertan that as of June 15, MVCCS had 53 children in care, about half of whom were cared for on a part-time basis.
He also said as of the end of April, MVCCS had 24 staff members.
During an interview, BGCOA chair Claire Rosehill said it’s her understanding that a couple MVCCS staff members are looking at opening day homes, so between their operations and the expanded Boys and Girls club operations, perhaps there’ll be spaces for all former MVCCS children.
BGCOA executive director Letitia Gole said that club currently employees 33 full-time and part-time staff. It obtained 13 Canada summer jobs positions. Some of those employees have already started work.
Gole said the expansion contemplated by the BGCOA will create five additional full-time positions.
“We were pretty shocked and disappointed to hear that they were closing. Obviously that’s a big loss for the community. A child care centre like theirs is very important in a town,” Rosehill said.
"It left us scrambling a little bit and now we are just kind of pulling some strings to get organized to open up some additional space for children and to be able to welcome the families that they will have to have let go and to be able to accommodate them in our club.”
Thomson said the MVCCS was forced to close because the provincial government pulled the funding on a $25-a-day daycare pilot program. He said that forced the organization to nearly double its fees and many parents couldn’t afford that.
Rosehill was asked why the BGCOA program didn’t also have to close when that funding was pulled.
“I’m not sure how they financially operated their business," Rosehill said. “We have really worked hard to keep fees as low as possible for parents. However, losing the subsidy – or losing the child care credits – the grants – meant that for families there was a big jump in fees.
“And I know that they had to increase their fees a bit higher than us, I think just because their overhead costs were quite a bit more than ours.
“And we do our best to apply for every grant possible we can. We do fundraising, so we just operate our business a bit differently I guess, at a little bit lower cost operating.”
Gole said the BGCOA has “worked hard over the past five years to develop an operating reserve to ensure the sustainability of our programs.”
“We offer a combination of free and fee-for-service programming as well as are continuously seeking grant opportunities, fundraising and monitoring our budget closely," she added.
“We will be applying for additional funding to support the cost of furniture and supplies to accommodate the increased need for childcare in our community.”
Rosehill was asked if the BGCOA would consider moving its operations into the MVCCS once it ceases operations.
“No, and only because they are looking actually at having someone purchase all of the assets and take over the lease,” she said.
“And their lease is quite significantly higher than our lease currently and we’re in our own lease, so we're not going to break our lease. We have a great landlord that we love.
“And that space is quite large. So to accommodate that lease cost, you have to bring on a lot more kids and we’re already operating at a pretty high level.”
She also said expanding into their former home presents some efficiencies because it’s so close to their current location.
"We’ll walk kids back and forth, we’ll be able to share resources as far as staff, supplies, all of that kind of thing,” she said.
The BGCOA news release said: “We are looking at this as an opportunity to grow our club further and are excited at the prospect of creating more jobs, hiring more staff and bringing in additional families.
“We are encouraging any families that have been affected by this sudden closure and are looking for child care to call our office at 403-556-2466 to get on our list.”