The province has given a Leslieville after-school program a reprieve so it has enough time to conform to new guidelines regarding daycare facilities.
“The ministry will meet with Sprouts Kids [Wednesday] to extend the compliance deadline so there is more time to identify and implement the best option that meets their needs,” said James McLean, advisor to Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris.
“The Ministry of Education will provide support to Sprouts to implement the best solution quickly to avoid disruption for parents.”
Sprouts‘ classes currently run more than three days a week and more than two hours a day, which would classify it as a childcare program under revamped ministry guidelines.
But the facility has chosen not to become a daycare due to the additional business expenses and rules.
Mark Fraser was concerned he would have to find another program for his daughter.
“We were in another program and, at the end of the day, it was a babysitting program,” said Fraser. “This program [is] great — a cooking class, acrobatic classes, arts and crafts.”
In 2015, the province made changes to the Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA) affecting recreation providers, mainly to protect a small percentage of kids in home daycares.
Sprouts founder Emily Pengelly said the province told her her facility was compliant, and then she got a notice saying it wasn’t.
“What they’re saying is we’re good enough for three days a week, two hours at a time, but not for five,” Pengelly said.
“We’ve never wanted to be a childcare facility. It’s not what we do. We want parents here. We are open seven days a week, and we teach more than 60 classes a week. When you become a licensed daycare there are really strict rules.”
Naidoo-Harris, minister for Early Years and Child Care, said the province understands the challenge Sprouts and other facilities face.
“We’ll work with Sprouts to bring them into compliance and work hand-in-hand with them to help them and let them know what the options are,” she said.
“We want to make sure that support is there. We understand that this is a challenge and difficulties this is creating, but the bottom line is this is about our children — keeping them safe and creating an environment where they can reach their full potential.”
The province said it will work with Sprouts to ensure parents are not left without care.