The Region of Waterloo is expanding its emergency childcare program to cover workers declared eligible by the Ontario government, a list that expanded on Saturday.
While Regional officials weren't aware that the change would be taking place, they were mostly prepared for the expansion and able to roll out new spaces quickly.
"We had checked in [with the childcare providers] knowing that the shutdown was going to stay longer, and we were preparing for that anyway, because we could all see that the numbers were not looking very promising," said Barb Cardow, Director of Children's Services for the Region of Waterloo. "The childcare operators were quite astute in figuring out how they could expand."
Cardow said the partners that they're working with to provide free emergency childcare are in a good position to continue expanding as needed.
There are currently 137 unique children registered in the program, with the average day seeing around 120 in attendance. If provincial funding continues, the program can continue, even to the end of the school year in a worst-case scenario.
"The Ministry of Education is fully funding this program, so as long as there's funding to provide the program, we will be able to continue to provide it, I don't see any reason why not., explained Cardow. "Of course, it depends on all partners being engaged, and I would say that we have a very committed group of people who want to support families and provide excellent quality childcare, along with our school board partners who want to see parents receive the supports they need, and their children get the care that they need."
All the partners that the Region is working with are licensed by the Ministry of Education under the Childcare and Early Years Act, whether for-profit or non-profit. That list of providers may expand depending on demand.
Cardow emphasized that the program is able to expand as necessary. You can find information on who's eligible how to register your child by clicking here.