New child care spaces will open on Monday to help essential workers in the region.
Barb Cardow, director of children’s services for the Region of Waterloo, says there are two new child care centres opening in Kitchener: Head to Toe YMCA Child Care at Resurrection Catholic Secondary School and Groh YMCA Child Care at Groh Public School. One opens on May 4 and the other will open on May 11. Together, they will provide care for about 40 children.
There is also a licensed home child care agency, which will be available immediately to provide care.
The benefit of the home child care, Cardow said, is there’s more flexibility for parents in terms of hours.
Regional centres have also extended their hours to help parents, running from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“There are still spaces in the system. We are not completely full, we have not had to totally stop placing children, although it was getting a little more difficult,” she said. “This will really help to increase access for people who are applying right now.”
On Wednesday, the province announced more people are eligible to access emergency child care. It now includes people who work in the food supply chain, retirement homes, grocery stores and pharmacies, as well as certain federal employees.
Regional staff are now reviewing applications that previously didn’t qualify and will contact people who can access the care now.
Cardow said they expect applications to increase and staff will decide where new centres need to open in the region.
Home child care
Cardow reminded the public licensed home child care and unregulated home child care are both essential services during the pandemic.
“We’ve had a number of incidences where people have complained or reported illegal child care happening. These are actually allowed to continue to operate,” she said. “In fact, they’ve played a really important role in providing safe, quality child care to children while their parents go to work.”
Cardow also said those home child care providers and early childhood educators working in the centres are “unsung heroes” helping people deemed essential to go to work.