Mary Farrugia picks up her five-year-old daughter Skye from Brampton’s Chinguacousy Learn.Play.Care. Centre after leaving her job at the airport at around 9 p.m. on work nights.
“I don’t have other people,” Farrugia said. “I’m a single mom. I don’t have any family in town.”
Skye has one of the 16 spots available to kids in the Chinguacousy child care centre’s evening program, which runs till 11:30 on weeknights.
I’m concerned about the place staying open so I can continue my employment.
But soon Farrugia and other parents of kids like Skye will have to make other child care arrangements if the Region of Peel goes ahead with a new plan.
Peel regional council voted at a Sept. 13 meeting to close all 12 of the region’s Learn.Play.Care child care centres, including Chinguacousy, which is the only one offering evening care. The closures are slated to happen over the next two years as the province’s full-day kindergarten plan is completely implemented.
“I’m concerned [about] the place staying open so I can continue my employment,” said Farrugia, who added she hasn’t been able to find a private centre that’s open past 6 p.m.
According to a Region of Peel report released at the council meeting, closing the 12 centres and their 800 child care spots — more than half which are reserved for subsidy-receiving families, Peel Region human services spokesperson Jennifer Marvin said — will free up funding to provide more parents with child care fee subsidies that can be used at private centres.
“They haven’t provided any details,” Learn.Play.Care. Centre Parent Council representative Maria Castillo said. “We don’t know anything.”
Farrugia said she’s concerned losing the Chinquacousy centre may mean travelling farther to find suitable child care.
“The closest child care centre that satisfies subsidy requirements is Chinguacousy, and it already takes 20 minutes for me drive here,” she said.
Castillo said she planned to suggest the region transfer the 12 Learn.Play.Care. centres to non-profit providers instead of closing them down. That, she said, would allow the children and parents access to the same curriculum and facilities while licenced teachers stay employed.
“My hope is that there is a seamless transition for children,” Castillo said.