The hard cold truth is that there’s no quick fix to the mess Squamish finds itself in regarding its lack of quality affordable childcare.
There are too few spots for those who need them, and creating and staffing new spaces won’t happen in time for many worried today about who will watch their kids when they go back to work next week or month.
The cost of this is heard in mothers’ exhausted, stressed and pained voices.
It’s in the diminished sense of community and in our inability to have all women (it is still primarily women who are struggling to find care so they can work) thrive in their careers. It is in the decisions couples are making not to expand their families due to a lack of childcare and strained marriages where partners scramble for solutions in their hours together. It puts stress on our youngest citizens who are too often bounced from one caregiver to the next so their parents can make a living.
The crisis is etched in the faces of burned-out ECE workers who followed their passions but are stretched too thin and undervalued by a society that pays more to a dog walker — not that we all don’t love dogs — than an educator.
Gains are being made, and leaders at all levels of government seem to be awake to the local crisis.
But it is too little and too late for so many.
In the conversation, employers often seem to be missing.
That’s odd because the conversation seems to go something like: “I love my job and am good at it and want to go back, but can’t find childcare.”
The topic then switches to what government and families are doing about it.
If employers want well-rounded, long-term, productive employees, wouldn’t it behoove them to step up for their staff who have children?
Of course, this isn’t realistic for a mom-and-pop business, but for big organizations, it seems fair.
The provincial government could offer tax incentives for employers who do so, as well.
Studies show it is a win-win for employers.
Childcare for their employees can translate into less turnover and absenteeism, higher productivity and easier recruiting of skilled employees, according to the report: “Tackling Childcare: The business case for employer-supported childcare,” by the International Finance Corporation.
Parents who drop off their littles at an onsite daycare could head right into work and then visit their children for lunch, or whenever need be.
So much better for the worker, child, and employer.
One solution isn’t going to fix childcare for all, of course. There needs to be an alphabet soup of options.
Until they are all available, perhaps more of us who don’t have young kids could ask our neighbour or friend who does, if we can lend a hand with the kids.
It is a cliché, but so true — it takes a village.