Flexible Childcare Comes to Vancouver

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The Vancouver “workday” is stretching and contracting, but until now, the childcare industry has made little effort to meet the new demands.

Lawrence Erickson, an Early Childhood Education (ECE) student, and his wife Talia Erickson, the sole-proprietor of a marketing consulting business, share guardianship of his young son with his ex, who lives in Kelowna. As Hunter's third birthday approached, the time came to consider pre-school, and the blended family was amazed at the lack of options for their not-so-uncommon situation.

"We wanted to find a good program that would support his early development, but we didn't need full-day care," Talia explained. "I schedule my appointments around Lawrence's availability when Hunter's here, and we don't have him full-time anyway. We thought part-time daycare would work, but the hours were so restrictive we'd have to completely change our lives to meet their schedule."

Small business and self-employment in Vancouver has been increasing at a rate four times that of larger companies, with the highest growth among businesses with no paid employees. For many, the opportunity to work from home is a major attraction. Even though these entrepreneurs spend more time with their kids, childcare, when they do need it, is still a difficult problem.

This fall, with the launch of the city's first occasional childcare facility - Budding Children's Garden & Daycare - Vancouver families will have a more flexible option.

At Buddings, registered families have password-protected access to their own online booking calendar, where they can schedule up to 40 hours of childcare per month, with as little as an hour's notice or three months in advance.  

"We want to provide those early development opportunities to families who, like us, wouldn't get to put their kids in an ECE program," Lawrence said. "No one wants to pay $800 - $1,100 a month when you only need a few hours a week, but the benefits of the environment and socialization are important considerations. If it's convenient, that's even better."

Budding Children's Garden & Daycare is scheduled to open in October 2011, and is currently accepting applications for the first season. The facility, at 950 West Broadway, will provide early childhood education for 3 - 5 year olds, on a flexible, occasional basis. For more information, visit buddings.ca   

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