District recruiting more child care providers
The Muskoka Home Child Care Agency (MHCCA) is extending the enrollment period for its child care provider program until November 1, 2022.
The program, managed by the District, helps caregivers to provide child care in their homes, and was created to help fill the demand for child care in Muskoka.
According to Community Engagement Coordinator, Heather Elliott, 3 programs have closed for school aged children. She adds, “200 spaces in total won’t be available come September. So, we’re trying to recruit so more spaces become available.”
Elliott adds that the lack of spaces for child care is across Muskoka, saying, “It’s spread out in the District. Every town is impacted in one shape or form.”
Councillor Don Smith said, “It’s become clear that we need to look at how it’s looked at, regarding wages, pensions and benefits.”
Elliott responded that efforts are in place regarding recruitment and retention, and said, “We received Federal Workforce Development Funding for coming up with strategies to get people in the field and to stay in it.”
The program partners with child care providers to “develop your business resources and supports,” said MHCCA representative, Monica Diefke. She adds that support includes “invoicing to the District, and 100% of the fees goes to the child care provider, a home child care enhancement grant, $20 a day in addition to general rates, team meetings, professional learning opportunities, and best practice research, and quality equipment important for learning, including a lending library, which includes items like high chairs, strollers, cots, etc.
Upon Councillor Michael Peppard’s inquiry about limits to the number of providers that can enroll in the program, Elliot responded, “We have lots of room for new homes to come on board.”
Elliott added that providers have been slow to respond, adding, “50% of licenced programs have not made decisions, so the deadline was extended to enroll.” She indicated that part of the reason for the hesitation was the time and work involved in enrolling, which has since been “updated and reduced.”