Government is embarking on initiatives to meet the increasing demand for public day care.
Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, told those gathered at the Ellerton Housing Area, St. George, last Saturday, for the renaming of the Ellerton Day Nursery as the Geoffrey Morris Day Nursery, that although the Child Care Board operated 15 nurseries with a capacity of 1,056 children, it could not meet the needs of those parents who wanted to access public day care facilities.
Lashley noted that his ministry was working on ways to increase this capacity, and he encouraged private individuals and organisations to work with Government to provide additional spaces for children under the age of five, as well as those three years old and under. He however reminded operators of private day nurseries that registration with Child Care Board was mandatory.
“We are extremely appreciative of the work of private day nurseries which account for 110 centres with a capacity in excess of 5,000. Of the total number of privately operated centres known to the board, [only] 90 centres have been registered for the year 2012. A timely reminder that all private day care centres must be registered with the Child Care Board before they can offer services to the public and registration is an annual process,” the Minister said.
He added that in addition to providing a direct service to children, day nurseries fostered the growth of community-mindedness.
“It is within the day nursery that children develop a capacity to trust and the competencies needed for future intellectual development. It is also within the day nursery that children learn about independence. All of these skills help children grow into responsible students and citizens,” he pointed out.
“The Ellerton Day Nursery, like the other 14 day [care] centres operated by the Government, acts as a complement to good parenting and represents a positive community intervention. Within each day nursery are trained members of staff who are involved in the implementation of age appropriate, fun activities for children.”
Lashley acknowledged that public day nurseries continued to provide valuable resources for parents, especially in these difficult economic times because they were heavily subsidised. Parents with children in public facilities only pay $20 a week, per child, and $39 a week where the parent has two children. The minister said this ensured that there was more disposable income in the pockets of parents.
He lauded the late Morris as “a community spirited individual” who assisted the children in his community through his voluntarism as director of the St. George Summer Day Camps from 1988 to 1989 and camp leader of the Ellerton, St. George, Summer Day Camp in 1990.
“It is evident that Mr. Morris was a hard-worker, who was committed and dedicated to the community which he called his home… As we grapple with our current economic and social challenges, it is this kind of voluntarism and commitment to which we must return if we are to secure sustained development,” Lashley emphasised.