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Tag: daycare

Early Learning Centre board member Coun. Mark Barber, chair Christy Gustavison, executive director Ola Crook, Sage site director Stacey Madden, and board vice-chair and mayor Don Anderberg.

Sage reopens, emphasizing the importance of child care

The community was taken by surprise when Pincher Creek Community Early Learning Centre’s Sage location faced a sudden closure last October due to chronic understaffing, but as the daycare is bouncing back, the board is emphasizing the crucial need for child care in Pincher Creek.

“It’s definitely an essential service,” says Mayor Don Anderberg, who is also vice-chair on the board of directors for the Pincher Creek Community Early Learning Centre. “When we had to shut down here we certainly heard that loud and clear.”

While some have questioned the need for investment in child care, Anderberg believes it is essential for attracting and keeping professionals in Pincher Creek, especially since the typical modern family dynamic has shifted from one wage earner to two.

“Community can’t do without it,” he says.

The Sage and Canyon Creek early learning centres both opened in 2020. They were introduced when the town saw an emerging need for child care after the closure of Children’s World Daycare downtown. The new facilities were deliberately placed near the community’s two elementary schools.

The Town of Pincher Creek and the MD of Pincher Creek each contributed to the capital costs of the construction of Sage, and the Town of Pincher Creek continues to support the its operation.


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“Investments in child care return us between four and seven dollars for every dollar invested in child care,” says PCCELC board chair Christy Gustavison. “It offers a tremendous value to the residents of the area.”

This return, she says, is brought back to the town through direct employment of daycare staff, as well as facilitating employment of parents.

“Whether we’re trying to recruit teachers or health-care workers or business owners, it’s an amenity that many families require now, and so to be able to offer that is really unique for a small town,” says Gustavison.

The importance of the child-care centre was certainly felt by the community when Sage was closed and many families were left scrambling for care alternatives.

“As hard as it was to make the decision to shut down and reset here in this facility, that may have been the best education for the community that we could have had because it spread out there pretty fast,” says Anderberg, describing how workplaces across town and schools were all impacted by the closure.

“From council’s perspective, it’s gone from how much this is cost to ‘We gotta take care of people, the No. 1 thing is taking care of the kids,’ ” he says.

To the board, closing and resetting was important to offer the best child care possible.


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When the centre first opened, there was no window for orientation or for the educators to become comfortable with the space. Trouble hiring and retaining staff prevented the facility from operating smoothly, and several code violations occurred.

“We were responsible for children and it was too much of a liability to continue the way we were,” says Gustavison.

“The reset was a nice way for everyone to just really start off on a really good foot,” says Sage’s executive director, Ola Crook.

Since the closure, Stacey Madden has been hired as centre director. Crook says Madden brings a beautiful vibe of positivity and knowledge to the daycare.

“My biggest vision is the harmony,” says Madden. “To see our teachers and our children within the program all being like a community.”

One of her ideas for achieving this community feel is having older kids read to and help out with younger children, to give them a sense of citizenship and responsibility within the centre.

Sage continues to look for educators, especially those specializing in the care of young babies. Staff make between $18.64 and $30.62 an hour, depending on experience and education, with benefits and an additional training incentive.

“We believe in investing in our employees to invest in our children,” says Gustavison.


Pincher Creek Early Learning Centre Staff are eager to welcome kids back to Sage child-care centre on a better foot.

Pincher Creek Early Learning Centre Staff are eager to welcome kids back to Sage child-care centre on a better foot.

Photo by Mia Parker



In order to keep child care available and the centre operating smoothly, Sage has to run a deficit, losing about $300 per child per month.

While Sage receives some funding from the province through the affordability grant, the board has been advocating for better funding, highlighting the significance of rural access to child care.

As federal and provincial partners work towards $10-a-day daycare, the money to pay the difference in costs should be coming from higher levels, according to Anderberg, but is instead being subsidized by the town.

The board has been trying to meet with the provincial minister of children and family services through local MLA Chelsae Petrovic but hasn’t had much luck.

Petrovic did not respond to Shootin’ the Breeze’s emailed questions within the two-week window provided.

Gustavison notes that while there have been some small improvements provincially, like offsetting some administrative costs, this remains an example of downloading the costs of providing services to municipalities.

Nevertheless, child care remains an important investment for Pincher Creek.

“If we know anything about the early years and brain development, these are the most significant years in a child’s life,” says Crook. “If we can invest in our children, then that just builds your community.”


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