Excerpts from the report:
If you live in rural New Brunswick, you know how hard it is to find and access services, whether it's services for children, families, youth, adults or seniors. Governments and community organizations struggle to successfully respond to the specific challenges of rural communities. These challenges include: large geographic distances, low population base, linguistic diversity, seasonal employment patterns and rural demographics.
Most children in New Brunswick are in some kind of non-parental care, since about three quarters of parents with young children are currently in the paid labour force. Even those parents who choose to stay at home with their children may need occasional flexible child care supports, whether to tend to their own personal needs, or the educational or social needs of their children. Regardless of parent status, the vast majority of children in this province are cared for in unlicensed and un-inspected settings. Quality, affordable and flexible child care has become an unreachable dream for most families, especially those living in rural communities.
These challenges, however, are not unique to New Brunswick. Our communities can look to other rural Canadian communities for examples and ideas to help New Brunswickers create our own solutions to meet the needs of rural families. To this end, the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women organized two community events to bring together community members interested in exploring child care opportunities in rural New Brunswick. The full day meetings, called Rural Child Care Strategy Sessions, occurred in Shédiac on December 5th and in Woodstock on December 6th. In total, 60 community members attended these two events with representatives including community parents, child care professionals, representatives of Local Service Districts, community organizations, social service professionals and representatives of municipal, provincial and federal governments.
The following report is a summary of the work and participation of this group. We present this information to you as a possible beginning of a process to engage all sectors of the community in partnership with all levels of government in working together to improve access to child care services and supports for New Brunswick's rural children and their families.