C-K to hand over keys to two day-care centres

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It’s just a matter of signing a few legal documents, but the municipality will soon hand over the keys to two day-care centres.

Families should not feel the change much, if at all.

Lucy Brown, general manager of health and family services, said the move was necessary after a cut in provincial funding of $1.4 million. After searching internally for cost savings, the municipality was still about $845,000 short of its needed target.

Chatham Mazda from Chatham Voice on Vimeo.

The transfer of the May Court Childcare Learning Centre in Chatham and Wallaceburg Childcare Learning Centre in Wallaceburg to private and non-profit groups will cut costs by an estimated $700,000.

“This is $700,000 worth of services – it’s cost avoidance, rather than savings. The whole thing was predicated in a reduction of our funding,” Brown said. “We had to find a way to either chop services or do something differently.”

Brown believes the children at both centres are in good hands.

“In Wallaceburg, it will be The Family Centre. They have a long history in Wallaceburg. The community is familiar with them,” she said. “In Chatham, it will be the Growing Together Family Resource Centre. They have several centres in Blenheim.”

The centres will close over the Christmas vacation period, as they have done in the past. When they reopen Jan. 5, they’ll be under new ownership.

Brown anticipates the transition will be pretty seamless.

“Obviously there will be some new faces and some new teachers, but there will be some familiar faces as well,” she said, adding a number of staff at each location have been retained. “We’ll be able to help make sure the child and the families are well taken care of.”

Brown said the staff has gone above and beyond to put the families and children first.

“They’ve maintained a high quality of service. They’re a good bunch,” she said.

Previously, Brown told The Voice even with the proposed changes, that still leaves the Children’s Services Department $145,000 short of required cuts. Brown said staff was hunting for additional savings possibilities, but if none can be found, she said they would have to trim from the pre-school early learning program. She anticipated it would drop to four days a week from five.

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