Three new infant spaces will open up at the Elmira Children’s Centre in the fall courtesy of increased daycare funding from the Region of Waterloo. The move elevates the centre’s capacity by 50 per cent.
Regional council approved the addition last week, bringing the total number of spaces up to nine. This means that the daycare centre, located at the Riverside Public School, will be able to take care of nine infants (between 0-18 months) starting in September 2017.
This is something new for Woolwich. For the first time, parents in the township will have access to daycare for their infants at a licensed care centre. Before these new spaces were approved, the other options available to parents were either licensed home-care for their infants, or unregulated home care.
The approval for the new spaces is part of the gradual opening of the Elmira Children’s Centre, which moved from its original location on Mockingbird Drive in December to its new facility at Riverside PS.
“There was capacity in the center for an infant room, but we had not opened it yet. In child care, it makes a lot of sense to gradually open spaces in the centre rather than doing it all at once,” explained Barb Cardow, director of children’s services for the Region of Waterloo.
Council had initially approved only six infant spaces in January, even though the Elmira centre had a capacity for nine. But in April, the Region received provincial funding specifically to improve access to child care in Ontario.
“We thought that it made sense to increase the spaces at Elmira to complete the infant room, so that those other three spaces could be filled,” said Cardow.
Although the new spaces are sure to be welcomed by some parents, there are still another 23 infants on the waiting list for those same services.
“We know the biggest challenge for families with young children is access to child care,” said Cardow. According to a report by the Waterloo Children’s Services, in 2016 only two per cent of infants had access to centre-based care in the region.
In Woolwich, only seven per cent of children 0-48 months had access to such licensed care, while in Wellesley, that number was five per cent. In Waterloo, by comparison, that number is 33 per cent.
“Yes, seven per cent – that’s very concerning,” adds Cardow.
Still, the Elmira Children’s Centre is not the only option for parents with infants. Parents can register for a child licensed care spot at regionofwaterloo.onehsn.com.