Wiggles and Giggles Group Daycare is attempting to help fill that need. Tammy Reaburn has been running the daycare out of her home, and recently decided to expand with the help of her husband, Adam.
"It was always something Tammy and I had talked about doing," says Adam Reaburn, adding, "the problem was always where to do it and finding staff."
The building issue was solved when the Red Dragon Taekwondo building on 110th Avenue became available late last fall. With the help of friends, the two have spent the last two and a half months getting it ready. That meant building a new wall to create a separate gym at the back of the building, as well as some new flooring and extensive painting. Luckily, the gym mats throughout the building work perfectly for children who are learning to walk and run around. The 4,400 square foot place includes an indoor gym with a climbing wall, a nap room and separated areas for different aged children.
The full-time daycare has room for 37 children, including 12 infants from 1-3 years old and 25 toddlers from 3-5 years old. The programs for the two different aged groups are kept almost completely separate, with separate sleep areas and play areas and different gym times due to different needs. Adam Reaburn explains the program closely resembles a Strong Start program, but on a full day scale. A Strong Start program has centres that are built and developed for children to learn and help them develop and grow.
"We have the same types of centres. We have a dress up centre, a reading centre, a listening centre, a block area… All of that stuff is there and they're all kind of following along the same ideas as a Strong Start or a pre-school."
The children spend time at each of those centres throughout the day, following an important routine. Wiggles and Giggles now has a full-time staff of seven early childhood educators. Tammy Reaburn herself has 12 years of childcare experience, and others at the daycare have over 18.
There is already a long wait list for infant spaces, but there are still a few spots open for toddlers. That's in line with what North Peace Child Care Resource and Referral Program Director Heather McBryan says is a shortage in Fort St. John. Spots for infants are more in demand as there are less than for toddlers. That's partially because in group care one early child educator is required for every four infants, while the ratio is one-to-eight for toddlers. She encourages parents to get a head start looking, when they know their maternity leave will be up.
"We definitely encourage parents to look around as soon as possible and get on some wait lists for the infants and toddlers."
There are now two group infant/toddler daycares in town and 4 group 3-5 daycares, as well as 14 licensed in home family daycares. For more information or to get on a waiting list, visit wigglesandgigglesdaycare.ca.
In the interest of full disclosure, Adam Reaburn is the Sales Manager for Moose FM/energeticcity.ca.