Someone has applied to start a new daycare at the same downtown Whitehorse location that housed the recently-shuttered Cheeky Monkey daycare, the News has learned.
Pat Living, a spokesperson with the Department of Health and Social Services, confirmed Jan. 18 that after several expressions of interest, an operator has submitted a daycare licence application for 406 Baxter St., with a proposed program start date of Feb. 1. Living declined to name the applicant, but said that the person has already obtained permission from the building’s landlord to take over the space.
It’s unclear what name the new daycare would operate under, should the licence be granted.
Cheeky Monkey, which was licensed for up to 47 children and employed 12 staff, abruptly shut down Jan. 13 after owners Andi and Mike Worden said the CRA seized their assets the day before, leaving parents scrambling over the weekend to find alternate child care. The daycare took payments at the beginning of every month, but with her accounts frozen, Andi said she was unable to offer refunds to parents or pay her staff.
HSS will help affected parents pay daycare fees for the remainder of January, Living said, providing that they place their children in another licensed facility.
“If you decided, ‘Well, grandma’s going to look after (my child)…’ or an aunt or a friend and you’re going to pay the aunt or the friend and they’re not licensed, either as a daycare or a dayhome, we can’t help you,” she said.
“When we licence a facility, we’re looking at levels of care and quality of care for children. Not to say that grandma doesn’t give great, quality care, but the people who come to us for a day home or daycare, they actually go through a process and they have to demonstrate they have training and are doing certain things.”
Cheeky Monkey’s sudden closure is the second in about as many months in the Yukon — in November 2017, the only daycare in Watson Lake was shut down due to lack of staff. At the time, Watson Lake Daycare board president Tanis Secerbegovic told the News that uncompetitive wages made it difficult to retain or recruit workers.
Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost and Yukon Party MLA Patti McLeod, who represents Watson Lake, had previously said they believed the daycare would be reopening in January 2018. However, in a phone interview Jan. 18, McLeod said the daycare is now looking at a tentative reopening date in March, although she added that she thinks that “will prove difficult.”
“I’m very happy that the government was able to pull together some supports for those Whitehorse families in a very short time (but) I’m more concerned about Watson Lake not having their issues addressed and it’s been over two months and we haven’t heard from the government (about) any discussion of solutions,” she said.
“Watson Lake needs different types of supports than what we are seeing in Whitehorse. Obviously, we don’t have other daycares for government to assist parents in finding those spots, so we need a much longer-term solution to the issues of staffing and the inability to attract those trained staffers to Watson Lake.”
With files from Ashley Joannou
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org