Submitted by Rebecca Edwards
It takes a village to raise a child – and that’s why grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbours, childcare providers and employers are being asked to join parents in completing a survey on childcare in the Elk Valley.
The survey is being carried out by the Elk Valley Child Care Advisory Initiative (EVCCAI) — a group that aims to understand childcare availability, affordability, and accessibility in Elkford, Sparwood and Fernie.
The EVCCAI and the Elkford Women’s Task Force (EWTF) have obtained funding from the Columbia Basin Trust to hire an experienced consultant to conduct this survey.
Sharon Strom, of EVCCAI said, “We want to paint a picture of the current childcare situation, and understand if childcare issues create barriers to employment in the Elk Valley. The results will be used to present opportunities for short-term or long-term strategies and to develop data-based recommendations for solutions.”
Kim Bauer of EWTF added, “Availability, affordability and accessibility of childcare affect people from all parts of our community – not just parents. We would like to hear from grandparents, other family members, employers and friends – anyone whose life is affected in any way by the local childcare situation.”
Surveys must be filled out by July 5 and will take between five to 25 minutes to complete, depending how much detail is given.
The survey is available online at www.evcnpvoice.com. Paper copies are available at the College of the Rockies, Fernie; Fernie Heritage Library; Sparwood Rec Centre; Sparwood Library; Elkford Aquatic Centre; Elkford Library and Elkford Community and Conference Centre.
Community meetings held in Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford to launch the survey have already raised many different stories of childcare difficulties, said Strom.
“A lot of people don’t have extended family nearby as a support network, and that means that it is really important for childcare to be affordable,” she added. “In Elkford we heard that people have actually moved away from the community because they couldn’t get suitable childcare. Some parents work on opposite shifts so that one of them can be at home to look after the children, which is a very difficult thing for a family to deal with.”
Strom went on to say, “There are parents who turned down opportunities for promotion because it would have changed their shift with what worked with their partner for childcare. Whatever your experiences, we want to hear from you so that we can fully understand the problems and develop recommendations for solutions based on hard data.”