Angela Skillen

Childcare change has families scrambling

Tong Louie YMCA officials apologize for 'putting families in a tough spot,' and commit to consulting on solution.

Changes in the wind for the before- and after-school care program at the Tong Louie YMCA have more than two dozen families scrambling to make childcare arrangements for their children.

Angela Skillen said she learned about the planned cancellation of the program at the Surrey facility late last month, when officials announced – in a March 29 letter – that it would take effect on June 24.

And while those same officials two days later postponed the closure – and apologized for how it was handled – Skillen, who said she is representing 32 families, said the temporary change of heart does not address the problem of finding alternative care for the longterm.

According to the March 29 letter, the decision to discontinue before- and after-school care is due to an increase in demand on program space at the facility, which is located on Highway 10, just west of 152 Street.

Kelly Walker, marketing and communications manager for the Y, added that a drop in enrollment numbers in recent years also played a role.

And while the program will ultimately cease to exist in its current form, Walker agreed the decision to do so fell short.

“We did make a mistake and we didn’t adequately consult with parents and put them in a difficult position,” she said Monday. “We really put families in a tough spot.”

Walker said the YMCA has committed to maintain the program through the 2016-2017 school year, while consulting with families to come up with an alternative. Options that could result include a different form of programming or a location off-site, she said.

“We want to make sure that these families have the care that they need,” Walker said.

She acknowledged finding childcare in the area is a challenge.

Skillen, a Panorama resident who has been a member at the Y since her daughter, Keira, was born seven years ago, said area daycares she has checked with all have lengthy wait lists.

She pointed to the pace of development in Surrey as part of the problem, noting it is also leading to a shortage of elementary- school seats.

And while the year’s grace announced by Y officials buys the affected families some time, Skillen said everyone involved would simply prefer to stay part of the community.

“It’s still very disappointing that we’re no longer a part of the family of the Y,” she said.

 

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