SUDBURY, ON ― Sudbury parents with children at Junior Citizens Day Care (JCDC) are optimistic that city councillors – many of them newly elected last fall – will vote to support a motion coming before Sudbury council tomorrow night, to not close the child care centre.
Vanessa McMahon has two children – one of them a toddler – at JCDC. She is among several JCDC families appealing to their councillors to rethink the closure. McMahon is asking her Minnow Lake councillor to vote in favour of a motion put forth by Ward 6 councillor Rene Lapierré to reassess closing JCDC.
“If I were a councillor saddled with this unpopular decision to close JCDC and displace the lives of so many families, I would want to revisit the vote that closed the program. It’s not like Sudbury has an abundance of francophone centres that offer afterhours care. We don’t have enough child care spaces, period. I don’t think the previous council really looked at all the factors and costs associated with closing JCDC,” says McMahon.
The motion to be debated at tomorrow night’s (March 31 — 6 p.m.) council meeting is focused on several of the issues troubling McMahon. Waitlist for child care, the availability of afterhours francophone services, the impact on staff and the full costs associated with the JCDC closure, are the key issues council is being asked to vote on in the motion.
For the last two years, the closure of Sudbury’s only municipal child care centre has been a controversial decision. Opposed by families with children at the centre, supporters of public child care and daycare staff who worked together to mount a community campaign to keep JCDC, a francophone and afterhours centre, open.
They won a partial victory when council decided to assess options for JCDC. But, last August the majority of the previous council voted to shutter JCDC for good this June, despite the fact that it provided child care for more than 100 families. Since then the city has implemented what they call a “transition plan”. Consequently there have been no new children admitted to the centre and many families, like McMahon’s, have been shuffled into other care arrangements in the community.
After trying out a community-based centre for her 18 month old toddler, that did not meet her family’s needs, McMahon, came back to JCDC because of its “superior program, led by early childhood educators. Surely council understands that families like mine are relying on them to provide quality public services. For many families that means a quality municipal child care program.”
Tomorrow’s council meeting begins at 6 p.m. McMahon intends on being there.
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