There’s hope that a takeover by the social services board in Kenora will lead to the creation of more local childcare spaces in coming months.
The Kenora District Services Board will now be administering the five childcare programs previously run by Firefly in Kenora.
The programs will be closed on Monday and reopen on Tuesday under the KDSB banner, after the handover officially took place on Oct. 1.
Henry Wall, KDSB’s chief administrative officer, said he anticipates the agency can open up more spaces thanks to a plan to recruit more early childhood educators (ECEs) due to projected administrative cost savings.
“Having more ECEs will actually allow us to ensure all the centres run at capacity,” he said. “So that we don’t have empty spots because we don’t have the necessary amount of ECEs.”
Firefly CEO Karen Ingebrigtson said there have been challenges for smaller organizations delivering childcare service in the region and across the province in the past few years, due to changes in the volume of funding.
Having a larger organization like the KDSB take the reins will “allow for a strengthening of our childcare services for children and families in Kenora, both in availability of services and spaces, and in terms of the additional resources that through their extensive experience and knowledge,” she said.
Handing over the childcare centres in Kenora will help Firefly focus more on its core services of children’s mental health, child development, and child rehabilitation services, she added.
“We’re now having an opportunity to really be able to provide the more specialized care for children and families in our communities.”
Ingebrigtson said she was also pleased there will be no interruption in service, and said staff at the centres “will be transitioning with comparable employment.”
Wall called it fantastic that all 36 staff members opted to continue under the new structure.
“We’re quite pleased and we’re very happy to have some really dedicated and hardworking men and women that are coming to join our team from Firefly. And so I think the fact that they’ve all accepted… I think it speaks to how the process went and they feel good about this transfer.”
The KDSB now runs child care programs in Dryden, Ear falls, Red Lake, Vermillion Bay, Ignace, Sioux Lookout and Kenora. said Wall.