An after school care program that runs out of Valley View Elementary is at risk of losing 40 childcare spaces.
Wee Care Early Childhood Centres began operating in 1999 at Valley View. It now operates at five Valley schools.
As it stands, the program uses an aging, stand-alone portable with 20 spaces, and the school’s multi-purpose room, which also has 20 spaces. However, the portable will soon be retired, and the school requires the multi-purpose room for after-school space.
Wee Care president Carla Carriere says there are no extra portables or surplus money to provide childcare space before and after school.
She needs help to find two portables measuring 24×40. Ideally, one would be equipped with washrooms and a sink for food prep and cleaning. She is applying for grant money from a number of agencies, and is planning to fundraise.
The Wee Care portable has no washrooms and is, in fact, located closer to Isfeld Secondary. In winter, children need to run in the dark and cold to reach the washrooms in Valley View.
“This past winter, when we had the rain blowing sideways, and it was dark by 4:30, we had a couple of kids pee their pants,” Carriere said. “There’s just no room in the school any more to have a permanent childcare centre — and all schools, I think, should have permanent childcare centres.”
If she can find the buildings, the school district will allow the portables to be placed onsite at Valley View. Water and sewer connections would need to be conducted by SD71 employees, but outside labour might be permitted if done at a lower rate.
Carriere has found portable costs range from $12,000 to $60,000, with a washroom included. She has sourced a refurbished portable from Nickel Bros. worth $38,000.
Ideally, Carriere would like to lease the buildings, which could, in turn , be leased to other groups when the daycare program is not in session.
Wee Care has more than 25 families registered full-time at Valley View. The program also offers part-time and drop-in care spaces that help people who work varied schedules.
Carriere says the lack of extra childcare space has been an issue for a few years. Losing 40 spaces at Valley View would not only affect families, but would also mean the loss of employment for three staff members.
“Valley View really needs two rooms because we’re over-booked already for the first one,” she said. “We’re turning parents away.”
Wee Care also operates at Arden and Royston Elementary, Ecole Puntledge Park and Ecole Robb Road.