Hamilton's child-care organizations take slow approach

News Jun 15, 2020 by Kevin Werner Ancaster News

Darryl Hall hopes his Umbrella Family and Child Centres located at schools across the city, including in Ancaster, will reopen this summer.

He just doesn’t know when.

Even though the province allowed daycare centres to reopen as of June 12, Hamilton officials have said it will take additional weeks to educate daycare operators about the new regulations before they can reopen.

Hall, the organization's executive director, said it was nearly impossible for his centres to reopen by June 12.

“We are not ready on such a short timeline,” he said.

Hall added that for his centres to reopen, there will also need to be some discussion with the public school board on how to reopen the facilities while the schools remain closed.

“We will need some access to (the schools),” he said.

The province has established basic guidelines to allow daycare centres to reopen. They include restricting the number of staff and children to 10 or fewer; screening all children and staff for symptoms of coronavirus on a daily basis; a thorough cleaning of the centre before opening and during the day; eliminating toys that could spread germs; requiring a COVID-19 response plan if a staff person or child is exposed to the virus; allowing only “essential” visitors; and pickup and drop-off protocols that allow for physical distancing.

The province’s guidance is to prioritize kids that had been served through the emergency child-care centres for essential workers, parents who have to return to work outside the home and children with special needs.

Hamilton’s medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, said that the city is requiring an inspection be conducted before any one of the city’s 234 child-care locations, operated by 94 child-care organizations, can reopen.

There were more than 14,000 child-care spaces available in the city for children ages 0 to 12 years old prior to the pandemic.

The city has been providing free emergency child care for front-line essential workers since late March, but it will be eliminated starting June 26.

“When it comes to these settings when a lot of people come together, we do find this is the best way for people to understand and follow the guidelines,” said Richardson.

The Umbrella Family and Child Centres of Hamilton operate facilities across the city, including at Ancaster Meadow Elementary School on Kitty Murray Lane.

Hall said that prior to reopening his 30 centres, staff will have to be recalled and subsequently trained in the additional health and safety protocols.

In addition, the daycare centres will need access to each of the schools the facilities are attached to in order to comply with the provincial guidelines. Hall said his centre “expects” to address all the requirements before reopening.

“We want to ensure the safety of the children and teachers. Child care will not look like what it was before,” said Hall. “It will be much different.”

The limit of having only 10 children and staff will “significantly” impact the operation, he said. Previously, the Umbrella Family and Child Centres of Hamilton oversaw 1,800 children.

Ancaster Little Gems, a daycare centre on Wilson Street East, has been closed because of the pandemic since March 17.

“At this time, we are awaiting direction in order to determine when we will be able to reopen,” said Karen Norman, owner of Ancaster Little Gems.

Richardson said public health officials will be holding a series of webinars starting the week of June 15 to “go through and explain what is expected."

“It will be up to the daycare operators, in terms of their readiness – they need to make sure they have worked through and addressed the issues,” said Richardson.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: With child-care centres now allowed to reopen, we wanted to find out what challenges they face and when they might be ready.

Hamilton's child-care facilities will 'look different,' says operator

News Jun 15, 2020 by Kevin Werner Ancaster News

Darryl Hall hopes his Umbrella Family and Child Centres located at schools across the city, including in Ancaster, will reopen this summer.

He just doesn’t know when.

Even though the province allowed daycare centres to reopen as of June 12, Hamilton officials have said it will take additional weeks to educate daycare operators about the new regulations before they can reopen.

Hall, the organization's executive director, said it was nearly impossible for his centres to reopen by June 12.

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“We are not ready on such a short timeline,” he said.

Hall added that for his centres to reopen, there will also need to be some discussion with the public school board on how to reopen the facilities while the schools remain closed.

“We will need some access to (the schools),” he said.

The province has established basic guidelines to allow daycare centres to reopen. They include restricting the number of staff and children to 10 or fewer; screening all children and staff for symptoms of coronavirus on a daily basis; a thorough cleaning of the centre before opening and during the day; eliminating toys that could spread germs; requiring a COVID-19 response plan if a staff person or child is exposed to the virus; allowing only “essential” visitors; and pickup and drop-off protocols that allow for physical distancing.

The province’s guidance is to prioritize kids that had been served through the emergency child-care centres for essential workers, parents who have to return to work outside the home and children with special needs.

Hamilton’s medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, said that the city is requiring an inspection be conducted before any one of the city’s 234 child-care locations, operated by 94 child-care organizations, can reopen.

There were more than 14,000 child-care spaces available in the city for children ages 0 to 12 years old prior to the pandemic.

The city has been providing free emergency child care for front-line essential workers since late March, but it will be eliminated starting June 26.

“When it comes to these settings when a lot of people come together, we do find this is the best way for people to understand and follow the guidelines,” said Richardson.

The Umbrella Family and Child Centres of Hamilton operate facilities across the city, including at Ancaster Meadow Elementary School on Kitty Murray Lane.

Hall said that prior to reopening his 30 centres, staff will have to be recalled and subsequently trained in the additional health and safety protocols.

In addition, the daycare centres will need access to each of the schools the facilities are attached to in order to comply with the provincial guidelines. Hall said his centre “expects” to address all the requirements before reopening.

“We want to ensure the safety of the children and teachers. Child care will not look like what it was before,” said Hall. “It will be much different.”

The limit of having only 10 children and staff will “significantly” impact the operation, he said. Previously, the Umbrella Family and Child Centres of Hamilton oversaw 1,800 children.

Ancaster Little Gems, a daycare centre on Wilson Street East, has been closed because of the pandemic since March 17.

“At this time, we are awaiting direction in order to determine when we will be able to reopen,” said Karen Norman, owner of Ancaster Little Gems.

Richardson said public health officials will be holding a series of webinars starting the week of June 15 to “go through and explain what is expected."

“It will be up to the daycare operators, in terms of their readiness – they need to make sure they have worked through and addressed the issues,” said Richardson.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: With child-care centres now allowed to reopen, we wanted to find out what challenges they face and when they might be ready.

Hamilton's child-care facilities will 'look different,' says operator

News Jun 15, 2020 by Kevin Werner Ancaster News

Darryl Hall hopes his Umbrella Family and Child Centres located at schools across the city, including in Ancaster, will reopen this summer.

He just doesn’t know when.

Even though the province allowed daycare centres to reopen as of June 12, Hamilton officials have said it will take additional weeks to educate daycare operators about the new regulations before they can reopen.

Hall, the organization's executive director, said it was nearly impossible for his centres to reopen by June 12.

Related Content

“We are not ready on such a short timeline,” he said.

Hall added that for his centres to reopen, there will also need to be some discussion with the public school board on how to reopen the facilities while the schools remain closed.

“We will need some access to (the schools),” he said.

The province has established basic guidelines to allow daycare centres to reopen. They include restricting the number of staff and children to 10 or fewer; screening all children and staff for symptoms of coronavirus on a daily basis; a thorough cleaning of the centre before opening and during the day; eliminating toys that could spread germs; requiring a COVID-19 response plan if a staff person or child is exposed to the virus; allowing only “essential” visitors; and pickup and drop-off protocols that allow for physical distancing.

The province’s guidance is to prioritize kids that had been served through the emergency child-care centres for essential workers, parents who have to return to work outside the home and children with special needs.

Hamilton’s medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, said that the city is requiring an inspection be conducted before any one of the city’s 234 child-care locations, operated by 94 child-care organizations, can reopen.

There were more than 14,000 child-care spaces available in the city for children ages 0 to 12 years old prior to the pandemic.

The city has been providing free emergency child care for front-line essential workers since late March, but it will be eliminated starting June 26.

“When it comes to these settings when a lot of people come together, we do find this is the best way for people to understand and follow the guidelines,” said Richardson.

The Umbrella Family and Child Centres of Hamilton operate facilities across the city, including at Ancaster Meadow Elementary School on Kitty Murray Lane.

Hall said that prior to reopening his 30 centres, staff will have to be recalled and subsequently trained in the additional health and safety protocols.

In addition, the daycare centres will need access to each of the schools the facilities are attached to in order to comply with the provincial guidelines. Hall said his centre “expects” to address all the requirements before reopening.

“We want to ensure the safety of the children and teachers. Child care will not look like what it was before,” said Hall. “It will be much different.”

The limit of having only 10 children and staff will “significantly” impact the operation, he said. Previously, the Umbrella Family and Child Centres of Hamilton oversaw 1,800 children.

Ancaster Little Gems, a daycare centre on Wilson Street East, has been closed because of the pandemic since March 17.

“At this time, we are awaiting direction in order to determine when we will be able to reopen,” said Karen Norman, owner of Ancaster Little Gems.

Richardson said public health officials will be holding a series of webinars starting the week of June 15 to “go through and explain what is expected."

“It will be up to the daycare operators, in terms of their readiness – they need to make sure they have worked through and addressed the issues,” said Richardson.


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: With child-care centres now allowed to reopen, we wanted to find out what challenges they face and when they might be ready.