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Parents outraged by possible closures

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Dean, Jan
Publication Date: 
25 Jan 2012



It's been said that a mother bear protecting her cub is a fierce creature. Proof of that could be found by observing the 300-plus parents who attended a public meeting Tuesday evening to protest the impending closure of 12 Peel Region public child care centres. The meeting was organized and chaired by Andrea Calver from the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.                                                                                                                                                     

As much as anything, the goal of the meeting was to organize parents for a "Rally to Save Peel Child Care" that's scheduled for Thursday at 9 a.m. outside 10 Peel Centre Dr. in Brampton, where Peel Regional Council will decide whether to close the child care centres.
A report issued last Friday recommends Peel close its Learn.Play.Care facilities in Brampton and Mississauga by September. The money will instead be used to help subsidize care for about 1,000 children and increased support for children with special needs.                                                           
This plan, which effectively moves Peel Region from the role of child care provider to that of service manager, would eliminate more than 800 child care spaces and put close to 300 employees out of work.                                                                                                                                                                                        
The report predicates this drastic restructuring partly on the fact that half the children in Region of Peel child care centres will either start Grade 1 or be eligible for full-day kindergarten in September 2012.                                                                                                                                                        
That was a problem for many in the room considering the provincial government won't finish rolling out their full-day kindergarten programs until 2014.                                                                            
"I needed to know my daughter was safe," single mother Stephanie Reid said tearfully. "I can't afford for them to close."                                                                                                                      
Lisa Martinez told how alert staffers at her daughter's day care centre helped identify that she suffered from Asperger Syndrome. It was something neither she nor her husband suspected.
Selamawit Belete, a single mother of two, talked about picking her daughter up from private daycare after work to discover that she had fallen, dislocated her shoulder, and been left screaming in pain for the rest of the day. Nobody thought to call Belete.                                                             
Keri Hill's son Andrew has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. At the Peel child care program at Ridgeway in Mississauga, he got the stimulation and quality of care he needed to flourish. Hill says she's furious that other children with special needs won't get that kind of help.                                 
Many parents are suggesting Regional Council is trying to rush it through to prevent them from opposing the plan.                                                                                                                                
Parents complained about how, just seven days after they were told about the report, the final vote is set for Regional Council. Closure of the centres will happen by September. So, how will they find alternate daycare? And, they asked, what about children who are eligible for full-day kindergarten, but not living where it's offered yet?                                                                              
Mississauga councillor Chris Fonseca said she has received many emails, phone calls and letters from parents who  feel the plan to close the centres was sprung on them.

-reprinted from the Brampton Guardian


Entered Date: 
25 Jan 2012
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