There are more than 800 children on the waiting list in Grey County for licenced child care.
The report to Grey County Council on Oct. 14 about the “current serious shortage” of childcare spaces in the County said that there would have to be 150 more registered staff to operate at 100 percent capacity.
About 300 of the 800 children on the waiting list are “toddlers.” About 200 are pre-school. There are just over 2,500 licenced spaces in the county.
It’s a situation that began before the pandemic, but there have been employees moving out of child care and into other better-paying jobs, the report said, such as manufacturing and tourism, said the report from Tara Cockerill, Children’s Services Manager.
Time-consuming cleaning protocols and operating in full PPE while providing care have taken their toll.
Child care workers did not receive the “frontline” pandemic pay that some other sectors did.
The report gives the wage range from $14.25 to $23.20/hr. Since 2014, there has been a “wage enhancement” grant from the province, introduced originally to “bridge” the pay to ECEs within the school system.
Right now, that grant is up to $2 per hour for those in licenced settings and $20 per day for licenced home care providers.
Funding for the universal child care program that was part of the 2021 budget was still under negotiation when the federal election was called.
The agreements are being negotiated individually with each province.
In August, a website “Be an ECE” was launched to recruit people into the field. It’s a project of a joint Bruce-Grey effort to address the situation.
October 21 is the Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day .
M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald