By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Reporting on the day an extensive provincial lockdown was expected, Northumberland County Early Years Manager Lesley Patterson said that sometimes her reports are only as good as they day she writes them.
Nevertheless, Patterson made a report on a wildly disrupted 2020 at the April meeting of county council’s Social Services Standing Committee.
The 12 partner child-care operations they have throughout the county were vital in providing child care to emergency and front-line workers during shutdown periods at a time when their programming for school-aged children – unless they were part of the emergency child-care arrangements – was put on hold.
“2020 was a very stressful funding year for our operators, and for the county,” she added.
“There were four different phases with different rules, and we didn’t find out until March 9 what our actual allocation was for 2020.
“The main goal for 2020 was to ensure operators were financially stable to continue operating.”
The Ministry of Education did supply additional funding during the first shutdown, Patterson said, but not in subsequent ones. But Safe Restart funding was made available to some operators (as well as some Reinvestment funding) that helped them with purchasing PPE, upgrading cleaning procedures and dealing with short-term vacancies.
“We are hoping there will be some additional Safe Restart funding, but at this time there are those concerns that the funding will not be there to make sure we are stable.
“We know the importance of licensed child care to bring back the economy, so we need to make sure our operators are financially stable.”
Committee chair John Henderson commended Patterson on dealing with all the challenges while making it all look seamless.
It’s a roller-coaster ride that promises to continue for a while, Henderson said, but he expressed confidence she will keep everything on track.