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Idea to privatize Dave Barr childcare services concerns parents

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Some Grande Prairie parents are concerned about the future of childcare at the Dave Barr Community Centre.

Earlier this month, the city sent a letter to parents who access childcare to let them know that they were reviewing how they offer services, as well as looking into leasing the space at the centre to a private provider.

Samantha Kemp currently has two children in childcare at Dave Barr and says this news just came out of the blue.

A copy of the letter sent to parents who use childcare services at Dave Barr Community Centre (supplied by Kerry R)

“We have not had any communication indicating that they were thinking about that at all. That was the first time they’ve mentioned it to us; they did not come and speak to us, they sent a letter. To me, that should have been an open meeting with the families that attend Dave Barr.”

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The centre currently offers four different types of childcare including the Kid’s Place Daycare, Kid’s Place Pre-K Room, and Kid’s Klub After School Care. The city took over operations a few years ago when officials said they saw an increased need for childcare in the area.

Community Services Director Arlen Miller says they started looking at service delivery back in the spring of 2019. Ultimately, he thinks it might be best to hand over the keys.

“There are other providers that we feel could provide the service and we could focus our resources on other needs in the community.”

That’s something Kemp says she doesn’t agree with.

“There’s a huge difference between childcare and high-quality childcare and that is what the city is offering. There are huge waiting lists at GPRC and other very well run facilities. What they’re saying about how they may have filled a void when they created this program and they’re no longer filling the void, that’s not accurate.”

Miller says he’s hoping to get the word out to other local providers in the city within the next few weeks to see if there’s interest in the space.

If a suitable candidate is found, he says the city will work with the operator to hopefully transition both the staff members and children over to the new provider.

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