TUMBLER RIDGE, B.C. – Childcare spaces for children three years old and younger are about to drop to zero in Tumbler Ridge with the closure of a not-for-profit program. This lack of childcare, according to concerned residents, makes the community increasingly difficult to live and work in.
The Tumbler Ridge Children’s Centre Society (TRCCS), a not-for-profit daycare and preschool in the town, is ending its three and under program on June 30th. Leaders at the centre, along with some concerned residents, are seeking support—and, hopefully, solutions— to the problem from the District of Tumbler Ridge.
The TRCCS, citing trouble recruiting and retaining staff under the difficulties posed by offering care to a wide range of ages, as well as the physical limits of its space, announced they were closing their under three daycare programming.
In a council meeting on Monday afternoon, the centre presented its struggles and potential solutions to improve care and avoid more closures in the future that require aid from the District of Tumbler Ridge.
The TRCCS offers a preschool program in the mornings (depending on staffing, one of these two age-based programs may also have to close in the fall). Its multi-age daycare program runs all day: its youngest program for toddlers and infants will shut its doors at the end of the month, while its program for older children will continue. No private options for daycare have been available in town since 2021.
Short-term requests for support included janitorial services from the district (to lighten the burden for staff) and needed renovations to the space.
Long-term support and alternative solutions presented by the TRCCS included further conversations about the district and a potential increase in its role in— or even taking over— the TRCCS.
Concerned residents wrote letters to petition the council to act on the upcoming lack of childcare spaces for infants and toddlers.
Jane Butters, a working mother in Tumbler Ridge, wrote that the lack of childcare in town was an urgent problem for her and many others in town.
“My situation is far from unique in Tumbler Ridge,” she wrote. “This pressure is felt heavily on not only families, but the organizations they work for, as we all try to find solutions to maintain our jobs, and find adequate, safe, and reasonably priced childcare for our children.”
Without childcare, businesses and other organizations in town face losing parents, commonly mothers, to either full-time parenting or other communities with better access to childcare. Butters knows professionals of many stripes who have left town for this reason.
One organization in town that stands to lose two vital professionals to this issue is the Tumbler Ridge Elementary School.
Ryan Schwab also wrote to the council. He and his wife are both teachers at the school.
With childcare services bleak for young children and no private options available, they have sought a private “babysitter” to watch their infant while they teach.
Like many other professionals in town, the couple moved to Tumbler Ridge from outside the area and do not have family members they can rely on to help with childcare.
“In reality, a lack of reliable and competent childcare will likely lead to our departure from this community,” Schwab wrote. “Unfortunately, I believe several other families are in the same situation.”
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