Parents of children who attend the Building Blocks daycare on Gordon Drive now have up to three extra months to find a new childcare provider before the facility closes.
Parents were sent scrambling after an announcement this week that the Gordon Drive campus of Building Blocks Educare would close at the end of February.
Around 100 children attend the daycare and some parents said it was looking like they would have to leave the workforce due to the loss of childcare.
On Tuesday evening, Building Blocks announced it has reached a stopgap solution with PC Urban Properties to extend childcare services at the facility until June 2.
That date, however, could be pushed up if staff jump ship before that. And with a massive shortage of early childhood educators in B.C., that is a real possibility.
“We understand the challenges, stress and pressure our closure announcement last week had on families, and we hope this will help them find longer-term solutions,” says Laura Forbes, director and co-owner of Building Blocks Educare, in a news release.
The extension is the result of “collaborative efforts” between the City of Kelowna, Mayor Tom Dyas and MLA Renee Merrifield.
The site housing the Gordon Drive daycare campus was sold in the summer of 2021 to make way for 192 rental units as well as a brand new daycare space.
PC Urban Properties is providing a short-term lease extension, including over five months of free base rent to support Building Blocks and the daycare families during the transition period.
Building Blocks says it has explored relocation options over the past 18 months, but a lack of available appropriate space for lease, the ongoing daycare staffing crisis and uncertainty surrounding universal childcare made relocation “non-viable.”
“In the end, a business decision was made to close the location and to also sell the Sutherland Campus to ProducKIDvity, a locally owned and operated childcare provider, which will take over operations on April 1, 2023 with no interruption in care,” Building Blocks said in a news release.
Families with children at the Sutherland Avenue location will have first right of refusal to receive childcare from ProducKIDvity.
Building Blocks emphasized it has to meet minimum staffing requirements at the Gordon Drive campus during its final months, which means they may be forced to close some seats prior to the new June 2 closing date.
“Once staff start moving on to new opportunities, the company will have to close programs.”