SUMMERSIDE – Child care programs are being cut at the YMCA of Prince Edward Island.
In a statement issued Monday afternoon, the board of directors of the YMCA said it’s shutting down the programs at the Summerside centre effective Dec. 20, because of declining numbers and increasing costs.
“The numbers pretty well speak for themselves,” said Ron Perry, president of YMCA Prince Edward Island. “Expenses are up a bit and our enrollment is down to the point where it’s not feasible to continue the operation without the prospect of losing money.”
Perry said the board has already exhausted the funding that is available for the programs.
“The problem is that the enrollment is down probably in line with what is happening with the English school system,” he said. “They were down 211 students. We’re seeing the same reflection in our enrollment as well for child care.”
Perry said, normally, there is a full capacity of 50 children in the early year centre. He said the centre would need 40 children enrolled to break even.
“We are currently 25 to 27,” he said. “We’re proactive in this as a board. We have a reserve fund and we can look after whatever shortfall there is this year. We’ve got enough to look after the staff and any creditors. If we were in really bad shape we’d be closing down tomorrow.”
Perry said the YMCA is not closing.
“We’re closing the child care programs, but we’re hopeful that we can either get a tenant to come in or create some new programs that might be viable,” he said.
Another problem, he said, is there are too many centres in then area and all competing for the same clientele.
“There’s not enough to go around and we are a unionized organization, that limits us. We don’t know if any of the others are unionized. But there comes a point in time where you have to bite the bullet.”
Perry said the YMCA has received some disappointing comments from parents, but indicated there are also some parents working behind the scenes to try to find alternate ways to deal with the issue.
“It’s a done deal in a sense that the current operation will have to close down,” he said. “It’s such a highly regulated business to be in. Government pretty much controls all aspects of childcare, which is reasonable. They dictate to you what the pupil-teacher ratio has to be, what we can charge the parents and the union dictates the level of wages we have to pay.
“We don’t have a lot of flexibility.”
The Summerside YMCA offered programs for infant care, a toddler care program, pre-school programs, pre-school and after school supervision for students and summer camps for regular students and special needs children.
“Those will all be gone,” Perry said. “We’re exploring other options. It may be we can find a private business that offers childcare that might want to use our facility – as long as it’s compatible with the objectives of the YMCA providing services to youth.
“We may be exploring other areas such as services to seniors.”
Perry said the future is uncertain, but the board of directors is committed to try to make something work.