Queens daycare wants 4-year municipal funding commitment

Queens County Daycare
Queens County Daycare. Photo Ed Halverson
Ed Halverson - QCCR - LiverpoolNS | 18-02-2021

The Queens County Daycare Association is turning to the Region of Queens for help to keep the doors open.

Association Chair Scott Christian appeared at Region of Queens council to ask the municipality for financial help of $50,000 this year and $30,000 over each of the next three years.

Christian says since taking ownership of the building from the municipality the association has burned through much of their cash reserves.

“We need to figure out how to get some revenue injected into the daycare right now so that we can meet our financial obligations and get the projects complete so that we can expand our services on the infant care side,” said Christian.

The daycare has lost most of the four-year olds who would normally be enrolled to the provincial pre-primary program.

In an attempt to make up for that revenue, the association is building capacity to begin infant care for children 18 months and younger.

Christian says the province has identified the need for those spaces and has contributed $250,000 towards the construction of a new infant care building on the daycare site.

Unfortunately for the association, that construction is over budget and they still need to contend with the upkeep on the old daycare building.

The association went from being a tenant to owners of the former Mount Pleasant school when they bought the building for one dollar from the region.

Christian says the list of repairs included the roof, windows and replacing a collapsed septic field.

Prior to buying the building, the association had $130,000 in reserves, and without additional funding, Christian says that money may not get them through the summer.

Christian says the provincial funding model doesn’t make sense for a non-profit daycare in rural Nova Scotia.

A statement from the department of education and early childhood development says private childcare centres in Nova Scotia have been given access to additional funding since 2017 to help them transition their business model to adapt to the introduction of the pre-primary program.

The province spends $11.6 million each year on professional development for early childhood educators and has provided about $30 million in COVID-related funding on top of about $25 million in regular financial support to childcare operators and staff.

Christian says the daycare is grateful for the support but it is not enough to meet their $400,000 operation costs.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” said Christian. “The numbers don’t add up. We receive $98,000 right now in provincial funding and you’d have to increase that by at least $50,000 per annum for it to be sustainable for us.”

Despite the bleak numbers, Christian says the association remains optimistic. He says the community recognizes the importance of the daycare.

Christian has already heard from some members of the business community who are willing to step up but that they are looking to see the municipality come to the plate first.

Region of Queens Mayor Darlene Norman says council will look into the association’s request as part of their budget deliberations over the next month.

In the meantime, Christian says parents needn’t worry about where they will send their children.

“We’re going to make this work, don’t need to worry about the thing closing. It could close in the summer, but it’s not going to, because the board is going to fight like hell and because something’s gotta give.”

Reported by Ed Halverson 
E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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