During the federal election, childcare was a hot-button topic. Most parties agreed on two things: we need to decrease the amount of money it costs families for childcare, and we need to increase the salaries of childcare workers.
This topic hit home in Squamish. Finding childcare here is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. But, if we are struggling to find affordable childcare for families, what happens when these children become youth in our community?
Like childcare, there are people in our community throughout different organizations and schools who are dedicated to the well-being of the youth. Yet, also like childcare, these positions are often underpaid and, therefore, understaffed. These people take on many youths across our community, yet they can only take on so much of the growing population.
Youth need just as many resources and options as children.
While it is easier to see children’s brain development through milestones like crawling and walking, adolescent brains are actually still rapidly developing until about the age of 25. What’s more, the brain develops from the back to the front, leaving the prefrontal cortex as one of the last regions of the brain to develop. The prefrontal cortex controls a large portion of our executive functioning, or our ability to make rational judgments and decision-making.
So while there is a concerted effort to create affordable childcare for families to educate children, an equal effort is needed when these children start becoming adolescents.
There are more services for youth coming to Squamish, such as Foundry Sea to Sky. But, one new addition, coupled with the subtraction of the old Youth Centre, won’t be enough to support the needs of all the youth.
The community needs a variety of comprehensive services that are capable of supporting young people with all types of developmental and cognitive functioning. And, the people who work for these services need to be compensated at a rate that allows them to afford to live in this community so they can dedicate themselves to the youth rather than constantly worrying about making ends meet.
Naturally, there is no guarantee that the youth will always utilize extra services; they are practicing taking care of their needs in their own way. And, there is no guarantee that more services will always work perfectly. But by simply having more services available for youth, we are showing them that they don’t have to grow up all by themselves.
Andrew Hughes is a Squamish resident, UBC journalism student and freelancer for The Squamish Chief.