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‘Fighting for scraps’: Burnaby mom wants city to increase childminding services

“There are so many moms who just need a break because they’re human beings.”
Burnaby's Eileen Dailly community centre hasn't returned to its pre-pandemic levels of childminding.

When Sarah Radziminski lost her eldest daughter Emma to cancer in 2018, swimming at Eileen Dailly pool is what got her through the first year-and-a-half of deep grief.

She dropped Emma’s little brother off at the community centre’s childminding services while she “swam and swam and swam.”

“I'm sure there’s people at Eileen Dailly who will probably remember me as the mom who was swimming with her head out of the water just bawling,” she said.

But since the pandemic, the number of childminding sessions at Eileen Dailly has gone from four days a week to two — and it won’t return to pre-pandemic levels this fall.

Childminding service still reduced

The city offers childminding at three of its community centres, a supervised drop-in service with toys and books for kids under five. One hour of childminding costs $5.10.

But come September on Monday afternoons and Wednesday mornings, the childminding room at Eileen Dailly will be used for the city’s Busy Bees program, a program in which parents remain with their children to participate in activities together.

For Radziminski, this defeats the purpose of childminding.

“You have to stay in the room and play with your kid, which is not objectively a bad thing. Except for — I'm a stay-at-home mom, I play with my kid all day long. Why would I want to pay to go and play with my kids somewhere else?”

Radziminski wants to be able to drop her two-year-old son off and use the centre’s facilities: swim, use the gym, learn Italian, take a breather.

“It’s not accessible to me if there’s no childminding,” she said.

City hopes to add session

Burnaby’s public affairs officer Cole Wagner said the city hopes to provide more childminding opportunities at Eileen Dailly in the coming months.

“We anticipate having childminding service three times per week this fall,” Wagner told the NOW in an emailed statement.

The third session of childminding at Eileen Dailly has yet to be scheduled on the city’s website.

Radziminski wants the city to move the Busy Bees program to a different time or location, so the childminding room (the space is named just that: childminding room) can be used for that function.

“It’s one of the only places that you can drop a kid off on a drop-in basis in all of Burnaby. I think the only other option is, like, IKEA.”

‘Fighting for scraps’

She said in an ideal world, the childminding services would be open seven days a week.

“I feel like I’m fighting for scraps,” Radziminski said. “It’s this attitude that parents only need child care from Monday to Friday. It’s like, well, plenty of parents would also love to have a swim on a Saturday.”

Radziminski said the service is helpful for community building and for parents’ mental health.

“Everyone I talk to has the same problem, which is that we’re all trying to patchwork a little bit of child care, out of part-time jobs, and family help and these drop-in centres.

“There are so many moms who just need a break because they’re human beings.”

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