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'All these families are now scrambling': Gimli parents concerned about policy changes to child care


Parents in Gimli who rely on child care before and after school are sounding the alarm over policy changes coming in September.

At the start of the new school year, Gimli Children’s Centre’s School Age Program will only take 30 students in kindergarten up to Grade 4 – which means those starting grades 5 or 6 in September will no longer be eligible to receive the care they used to.

“All these families are now scrambling, trying to figure out what they’re going to do with their nine, 10, 11-year-old kids that have been in the centre since they were a year old,” said Kevin Peters, a parent of one of the students impacted.

Peters’ son Aron has been enrolled in the centre since September 2014. Since he’ll be 11 years old in June, come September, he’ll no longer be part of the School Age Program.

“I know my wife and I, we’ve lost a lot of sleep trying to figure out what we’re going to do come September,” he said.

In an email sent to parents, the children’s centre’s director said the School Age Program is at max capacity and recommended starting a search for alternative care.

According to Peters, there isn’t any time, or other option.

“The next closest daycare is one that’s full down in Winnipeg Beach or Arborg,” Peters said. “There’s the odd private one, and those even have waiting lists.

“There’s just no spaces available.”

According to the email, the policy change comes as the Evergreen School Division moves to a full-day kindergarten model.

“Now these families are being put in a position of having no childcare and it’s through no fault of the childcare program,” said Jodie Kehl, executive director of the Manitoba Child Care Association.

Kehl said concerns lie around a lack of consultation, and conversations, “Should involve the Province of Manitoba and they should involve early learning and childcare, they should involve families.”

While Aron only had one year left under the program, Peters said he’s worried about other families in the neighbourhood.

“This is going to affect parents for years to come,” he said. “And I hope parents that are affected by this policy – not just this year, but in coming years – will step up and maybe bring about change.”

CTV News reached out to the Evergreen School Division and Gimli Children’s Centre but hasn’t received a response yet.

In a statement, Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister Nello Altomare told CTV News: “We are reaching out to the facility to see whether there are solutions that would permit existing families to continue receiving care.” Top Stories

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