TRURO – The month of June is a special one for numerous daycares, including Near To Me on Willow Street.
The province of Nova Scotia celebrates Child Care Awareness Days, something that Near To Me’s director says is extremely important for everyone to recognize.
“The goal is to let others knows about the quality of early child care and how important it is to the economy, to the child’s future and to the community,” said Sara Hazelton, who has been with Near To Me for more than 15 years.
“We’ve been celebrating it every year that I’ve been here. Most do something within their own group, like a graduation, picnic or family social, but we want to get the news out to the community so they understand the importance of what we’re doing.”
According to the TD Bank, every dollar spent on a child in their first five years of life brings a return of $1.50 to the economy.
“Perhaps there is another member of the family that is able to go to work thanks to early child care, or there is a single parent that is able to either go back to work or to school who isn’t using social assistance, that can then help support their family,” she said.
Having worked in early childcare, Hazelton admits some families find it difficult to afford it, and that, in turn, affects the children when parents are stressed about money.
“That trickles down to the children, and the children feel that,” she said, adding she wants early childcare to become more affordable and accessible to families. “The Early Development Index Program has found that there are more children going to school with emotional and social behavioral problems, such as aggression, anxiety and high level of stress.
“We agree with that. We see children who have that lack of emotion or connectedness, that feel rushed or have anxiety. We want children here to feel safe and comfortable, and to be able to negotiate problems with their friends when they don’t want to share a toy.”
To celebrate Child Care Awareness Days, the centre is hosting a ceremony Wednesday night at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre.
Eight children will graduate, as they are attending Grade Primary in the fall. Along with the certificates, gifts and cake will be presented, along with another special surprise presentation.
The centre currently has 34 children enrolled, with the capacity to look after 29 each day. Ages range from 18 months to five years, with Hazelton noting many people need childcare earlier than 12 months, which is something else she’d like to see addressed.