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Daycare’s short notice of impending closure leaves Kelowna parents scrambling for child care

With the impending closure of a daycare center in Kelowna, BC, dozens of parents are frantically seeking childcare for their children.

Building Blocks Educare, which has operated two branches in the city of Central Okanagan for 15 years, announced Wednesday that it will close the doors of its Gordon Avenue branch on Feb. 28, giving parents less than a month to find new childcare spaces for their children.

The Sutherland Avenue branch, meanwhile, has been sold to another child care provider, ProducKIDvity, which will take over on April 1.

Laura Forbes, co-owner of Building Blocks, says she is closing the business because her landlord unexpectedly sold the Gordon Drive property in the summer of 2021 and has been unable to find another affordable location since then.

ProducKIDvity, another child care provider, will acquire Building Blocks’ Sutherland Avenue business in April. (ProductKIDvity)

“We realize that losing our building was much like losing our business, and we would be starting all over again,” Forbes said in a written statement.

She adds that the Sutherland Avenue branch will operate until March 31, before ProducKIDvity takes over.

‘A bittersweet pill to swallow’: older

Kelowna parent Chelsea Howanyk says she is under immense pressure to find a daycare place for her three-year-old son, who is enrolled in the Gordon Avenue branch of Building Blocks.

“It was a bittersweet pill to swallow,” she told host Chris Walker on CBC’s Dawn South Friday, from the closing.

“I feel like I’m going to cry this morning.”

As a liquor store employee, Howanyk says she can’t easily take time off to care for her child because the store is understaffed and she has used up all of her annual vacation days for the year.

“It’s basically a slap in the face,” she added, as Building Blocks had promised parents it would stay open until 2025.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, the nonprofit Okanagan Family and Childcare Society said it estimates more than 100 families will be affected by the closure of Building Blocks’ Gordon Avenue branch.

Executive director Melissa Hunt-Anderson said parents of infants and toddlers normally have to wait two years for childcare.

Howanyk says she’s not optimistic that ProducKIDvity would take her son, because she expects it will give priority to children currently enrolled in Building Blocks’ Sutherland Avenue branch.

In its letter to parents, Building Blocks said it does not expect to reopen at other locations in the foreseeable future given the shortage of preschool teachers in the Okanagan region, and that it would be difficult to take back laid-off staff who have been employed elsewhere. accepted a job.

Building Blocks declined CBC’s request for an interview, but co-owner Brie Elson said in an email to Howanyk that the company is working with Okanagan Family and Childcare Society and other childcare providers to create spaces for children enrolled in the Gordon Avenue branch.

Alex Carnio, CEO of ProducKIDvity, told CBC in an emailed statement that she is in lease negotiations for two properties, hoping to convert them into daycare spaces to house Gordon Avenue children by the end of the year.

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