Concerned parents, families, community members and front line child care workers gathered last week to express concerns and discuss plans to keep Coronation Park Day Nursery from shutting down after Lambton County councillors voted to support a staff recommendation to close the child care centre due to the loss of $1.3 million in annual provincial funding.
“It was very clear at this meeting that Coronation Park was more than a child care centre to residents and the community,” said Mary Aikin, president of CUPE 2926, representing the 38 child care workers from Coronation Park. “This is a place for our children to have the best start in life and a high-quality learning centre with the best early childhood educators (ECEs) in the field – that is why there is a long waiting list for families wanting their children to have the opportunity to have a bright future. Lambton County should be investing more in early child care education so more of our children can have these opportunities – how does shutting down Coronation Park help our community?”
“As a teacher, I can say, without a doubt, that the programs at Coronation Park are based on the development of our children – learning is rooted in their activity,” said Lauren D’Andrea, a school teacher and a parent with three children at Coronation Park Day Nursery, who also attended the meeting. “Education is extremely important for our children and early childhood education begins at day care centres like Coronation Park.”
“We help children learn at the most formative stage of their lives,” said Patty Jamieson, a registered early childhood educator at Coronation Park. “Every day we see how a positive learning environment impacts the minds of the children – it is so sad to think that these important services will not be available to these children and their families.”
Nancy Forestell, a veteran staff member of 27 years, has seen children that she cared for bringing their own children to Coronation “so their kids can have the same bright start that their parents were fortunate to have,” said Forestell. Children who attended Coronation Park as kids, now young adults, also attended the meeting and plan to fight the closure of the child care centre.
One of the key concerns raised at the meeting was that the staff report had only one recommended option which is to close the centre. “Closing Coronation Park should not be the only option available to the community,” continued Aikin. “Parents and workers were not consulted for the report. In fact, there were a lot of questions and concerns that were raised that should be answered by the county. It is so shocking that our elected leaders are even considering closing a centre that helps build future leaders of our community.”
The concerned parents and child care workers are planning to work together to rally the community to keep Coronation Park Nursery open, not only for current children, but also for future generations of children from Lambton County. Their message to councillors is – invest in our children, keep Coronation Park open.
For more information, please contact:
Mary Aikin, President of CUPE 2926
Brian Humphrey, CUPE National Representative
James Chai, CUPE Communications