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Yellowknife loses a day care

Peter Crnogorac
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 01/06) - There were no happy squeals coming from the Kids First day care in downtown Yellowknife on Wednesday.

The inside of the day care, which recently had 22 preschool kids in its program, was dark and its doors locked throughout the day.

At the front entrance lay a Candyland CD, and a few metres away, a wooden Fisher Price toy doll was embedded into the hardened snow.

A sign was in the building's picture window beside the entrance advertising the sale of toys, books and chairs at a garage sale for Nov. 25-26.

All this is evidence to the fact that Yellowknife has lost a day care, likely because of the difficulty of finding workers.

The non-profit group advertised for qualified workers in a recent edition of Yellowknifer.

The day care has been closed since Nov. 1, but was scheduled to re-open on Nov. 14, which didn't happen, according to Linda Benedict, director of the nearby Yellowknife Daycare Centre - the largest in Yellowknife with 64 kids.

"I assume they were having staffing difficulties because we're having staffing difficulties," she said.

The Kids First website was still running on Wednesday, but all phone lines were disconnected, and no one who worked at the day care could be reached for comment.

An advertisement in Yellowknifer, Nov. 24, states that Kid's First Child Development Centre will be permanently closing on Dec. 1. It also mentions the garage sale.

Kids First still has a job posting on jobsnorth.ca for child care workers with a closing date of Nov. 30.

The contact for the job couldn't be contacted for this story.

Lyda Fuller, executive director of the YWCA, said her organization once ran the day care.

"We could no longer sustain it," she said.

"It was taken over by parent directors as a separate entity. They have lasted almost exactly 10 years," she said.

Fuller said that she doesn't know exactly why the day care closed its doors but said the parent group was paying $3,000 for rental of the day care, which she said could have been one reason.

Benedict said that the closing of the day care will add to the strain of the overall day care system in Yellowknife.

"There are 21 kids - we took in one - who must now go to day homes," she explained.

"The thing is, some of these unlicensed day homes are great, but others are not so good."

Day homes provide care in a person's home. Some are licensed while others are not.

With the closing of Kids First, Yellowknife now has four full-time day cares with spaces for 191 children.