Daycare services get hopping again on Salt Spring

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Movement is happening in the world of early learning on Salt Spring Island as one daycare is set to re-open and another is working on opening for the first time. 

Tree Frog Daycare, which closed Nov. 30, 2021 due to combined staffing and housing challenges, will re-open part-time on June 1 and is anticipated to return full-time in July. The Little Rainbows Early Learning Centre is working on the final pieces of licensing, staffing and set-up to open at its Rainbow Road centre. 

When the decision was made to temporarily shut the doors due to staffing and housing shortages, the Fulford Harbour Child Care Society began focusing on recruitment and retention to staff up Tree Frog Daycare. With staffing shortages solved, the daycare is now looking for community support as they prepare to re-open in a few weeks. 

Together with the two staff members remaining at the time of closure, the daycare will also have on board a previous staff member, another local early childhood educator (ECE) and an ECE from Vancouver who is being housed with the help of a family whose child is an alumnus of the daycare.

“From the moment we went public about closing, we have felt the outpouring of support from our community, especially our alumni families,” chairperson Danielle Taylor and coordinator of the daycare Lisa Bleskie stated via email. 

The daycare is licensed for 20 children, including four infant and toddler spaces, which are some of the most needed on the island. Staff and the board are now busy filling spaces with the families who had their children at the centre when it closed. The board stated they will not be accepting any new registration requests or visits to the daycare until they have completed this process.

“Without the dedication and hard work of our parent board of directors, who remained committed and optimistic throughout this process and all the ups and downs, we would not have been able to do this, and as the last of the original staff of Tree Frog, I am so grateful they fought with me to reopen this place I love so dearly,” Bleskie stated.

Tree Frog families, staff and community were also given a big thanks by the board in their re-opening announcement. 

Both Tree Frog and Little Rainbows have appealed to the community to support their efforts to provide early learning and care to Salt Spring’s youngest citizens.

A GoFundMe campaign is running for Tree Frog’s reopening, with $4,535 raised of a $25,000 goal as of May 16. The society is also raising funds through people allocating their bottle returns at the Island Return-it depot, through personal donations and through Country Grocer’s Save-a-Tape program. 

“Tree Frog has a solid business model and has not needed to rely on community donations in the past few years,” the GoFundMe page stated.

The daycare did, however, incur a financial loss during the time it was closed and needs help with re-opening costs that include maintenance and repairs, supplies, furniture, payroll, utilities and other fees. 

Community members have already stepped in to help, including daycare parent Sean Hart and his Salty Builders crew spending a day sprucing up the building. A work party is also planned for Sunday, May 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the daycare.

“Anyone who would like to help is welcome to show up that day with gardening supplies, shovels, wheelbarrows,” Taylor and Bleskie wrote.

Soil and plants have been donated by Country Grocer, and Forsyth Farms Gravel Mart has contributed sand to refresh the playground. 

The daycare is also in need of a paint job inside and out, a new or used washer and dryer, and a new office desk. Email the daycare at treefrogdaycare@shaw.ca for questions around how to support reopening efforts. 

With capacity for 12 children up to age 36 months, the Little Rainbows centre is in the process of opening, said executive director Janice Shields. The centre is continuing to actively recruit up to four ECEs, one to two with infant toddler certification on top of their ECE credentials, as well as an ECE assistant. Shields said there are some promising leads, and the centre has done outreach to nearby colleges, yet some experienced ECEs will also be needed. 

Little Rainbows has appealed for monetary donations as well as resources, books and playground equipment in March. These needs still exist, Shields said, and with a playground being installed they are also appealing for donations of a shed and a gazebo for the outdoor space. 

“We have quite a few families on our list, we’re not surprised, [it’s] great. It’s just that waiting for it all to come together,” she said.

To reach the Little Rainbows team, email littlerainbows@giels.org

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