Desperately seeking sitters

Derek Montague
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Parents go to desperate lengths to find childcare

Rhea Dale didn’t know where else to turn to find adequate childcare services for her two young kids.

Saralynn Power has had great difficulty finding childcare for her one-year-old daughter Casey. After Power went back to work in March, she relied on family from all over the province to babysit Casey and her three-year-old brother Jackson.

Although three-year-old Eliza was finally accepted into one of Happy Valley-Goose Bay’s daycares, after being on a waitlist for most of her life, Dale couldn’t find a babysitter for one-year-old Nathaniel.

“Nobody wants one-year-olds,” said Dale. “To get infant care at that age is impossible.”

Back in 2013, when Rhea was still on maternity leave with Nathaniel, she and her husband, Aaron, decided to hire a nanny, knowing that by the time her leave was up, they could be desperate for childcare.

After not receiving any interested nannies locally, or nationally, they brought in a woman from Thailand, through the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

The nanny arrived in mid-July, just after Dale, who is a behaviour management specialist with Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS), had to go back to work.

“If I didn’t get a Nanny, I would have to quit my job or move home,” said Dale. “I had searched all year for childcare.

“I’m not rich … (hiring a nanny) is not really what I wanted to do.”

Rhea and Aaron moved to Happy Valley-Goose Bay in 2010. When they began their young family after Eliza was born, friends had told the couple about how difficult it could be to find a daycare in town.

By the time Dale’s first maternity leave was up, Eliza was still on a daycare waiting list. Luckily, the couple found a babysitter willing to take in infants; a luxury they wouldn’t have with Nathaniel a couple years later.

Even though the desperate move to hire a nanny was financially costly, Rhea at least knows that her children are receiving quality care while she and Aaron are at work.

“She’s excellent. Besides not wanting to (hire a nanny), I’m glad it all worked out,” said Dale

If it were up to Dale, she would still be at home looking after Eliza and Nathaniel herself. But, like most parents, it’s impossible for her and her husband to survive on one income.

“I love my job, but I would rather be home with my children, but I can’t,” said Dale.

“It’s not because we continuously buy things. We have student loans and, for me, it’s also about job security. If I quit now, would my job be here five years down the road?”

 

Family helps out

Rhea Dale isn’t the only parent who has gone to far lengths for childcare in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

After her maternity leave ended in March, Saralynn Power couldn’t find any affordable options for childcare in the community. So she and her husband Steve brought in family from all across the province to look after three-year-old Jackson and one-year-old Casey.

“When I went back to work in the spring, after my second maternity leave, I had to rely on family. I had my parents come in from the island,” said Power.

“They drove up from Newfoundland and stayed six weeks to watch my kids … for the rest of the time, I had to get my husband’s mother to come in from Churchill Falls and get his sister to come in from St John’s.”

Luckily, since Power is a teacher in Sheshatshiu, she has the summer off and can look after her son and daughter herself. But she has yet to have any childcare lined up for September.

“Daycares have waitlists, Jackson has been on a waitlist since he was born,” said Power.

“There were babysitters who would take one child or the other, but they wouldn’t take them together … not one person who I spoke to was willing to take both of them.”

When Power did receive babysitting offers, it was for an unaffordable amount.

Two years ago, after Power finished her first maternity leave with Jackson, the couple found a babysitter who charged just $35 a day.

With two children now needing care, however, those offers have gone up by more than double.

“Most people who have offered, they want an unreasonable amount. And you still have to provide lunches and snacks,” said Power.

“There was one lady interested, but she wanted $100 a day. But then it wouldn’t be worth it for me to go back to work, really.”

As a teacher, Power understands the value of early childhood education. She would like her children to be supervised by someone who can help her children’s development.

“I was looking for someone who was going to do more than just supervise; someone who’s going to interact and teach him,” said Power.

 

Financial hardships

The lack of daycare or babysitters isn’t the only lesson Power has learned by having a young family. After spending a total of two years on maternity leave, she has discovered the financial hardships of being away from her job.

While on maternity leave, Power was receiving a portion of her income. With the cost of living sky-high in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, that wasn’t an easy adjustment.

“Before we had our second child, and we knew I was going to be on maternity leave, we saved money and we didn’t take any vacations or anything. We saved as much money as we could so we could stretch it out over that year,” said Power.

“Even in the last three years, the cost of living in Goose Bay has gone up exponentially. Even with groceries, for example, were spending a couple hundred dollars a week on groceries.”

derek.montague@thelabradorian.ca

Organizations: Child Youth and Family Services

Geographic location: Goose Bay, Happy Valley, Thailand Newfoundland Sheshatshiu

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  • Candi
    August 05, 2014 - 15:31

    In today’s society, there are many benefits of hiring a nanny: 1. COST. If you have two or more children, it may be cost effective for you to hire a nanny as many daycare centers can cost you more. Also, many families are using “nanny share”. This is an arrangement in which two families share one nanny. This cuts down on costs but you still experience the benefits of having a nanny. 2. HEALTH OF THE CHILDREN. You may have healthier children by keeping them away from the large groups of children typically found in daycare. Germs are easily spread from child to child, so daycare centers can be breeding grounds for every cold and flu of the season. When your children contract illnesses, it takes an emotional toll on both you and your children. Further, they may miss school, you may miss work, and you may incur expenses associated with doctor’s visits and medications. Your children’s exposure to germs, and thus the risks discussed here, can be dramatically diminished by simply using the services of a nanny. 3. WORKPLACE PRODUCTIVITY. If your children are sick, many daycare centers will not accept your children. However, if you have a nanny, you can still go to work as the nanny will stay home with the children. Further, if you have an attentive nanny at home with your children, you will be less likely to feel like you just can’t concentrate at work due to concern for your children. By staying focused at work, your workplace productivity remains high. 4. HOME WORKLOAD DELEGATION. A nanny can help you maintain work/life balance. For example, a nanny can be an extra pair of hands helping with household duties such as laundry, errands, transporting children, and starting the evening meal. This allows for more quality family time when the parents arrive home. No need to rush in the morning to get the kids out the door for daycare or school: a nanny is an extra pair of hands in the morning. 5. MARITAL BONDING. Many parents become so over-committed with the tasks of working full-time on top of parenting, household maintenance, and a host of other daily responsibilities, that tending the marital bond simply isn’t on their radar screen. Years later, it may be too late when the couple realizes that they have grown apart. A nanny can help prevent that. Nannies can watch children in the evenings (which many daycare centers will not do), thus allowing parents an opportunity for a romantic evening out, or maybe just some private just-the-two-of-us time. These relationship-building evenings help maintain the marital bond. 6. PEACE OF MIND. Daycare centers have staff turnover. Parents are not typically involved in the staff recruitment and selection process at their children’s daycare center. Therefore, you never know, on a day-to-day basis, who may be watching your children in a daycare setting. If you hire a nanny, however, you know in whose care your children are. You... http://blog.nannies4hire.com/benefits-of-hiring-a-nanny-2/309

  • Fed Up with Goose
    July 24, 2014 - 11:48

    The cost of living in Goose Bay is making it unaffordable for EVERYONE. I sympathize with Power and her family; we have two incomes, are both professionals, don't live an extravagant lifestyle, and are still living paycheque to paycheque. While we love it here, we also can't imagine staying. Other people with careers like ours who live on the island can afford houses that are larger and newer than ours, can travel and can buy fresh, inexpensive food. Living in Goose Bay is preventing us from having the life we would like, and the longer we stay, the greater the struggles. I fear it will become a place where only the wealthy can stay, or will become another fly-in camp. Something has got to give in all aspects; childcare being one, since it's so important, and such a big part of affordable living.

  • Fed Up with Goose
    July 24, 2014 - 11:43

    The cost of living in Goose Bay is making it unaffordable for EVERYONE. I sympathize with Power and her family; we have two incomes, are both professionals, don't live an extravagant lifestyle, and are still living paycheque to paycheque. While we love it here, we also can't imagine staying. Other people with careers like ours who live on the island can afford houses that are larger and newer than ours, can travel and can buy fresh, inexpensive food. Living in Goose Bay is preventing us from having the life we would like, and the longer we stay, the greater the struggles. I fear it will become a place where only the wealthy can stay, or will become another fly-in camp. Something has got to give in all aspects; childcare being one, since it's so important, and such a big part of affordable living.

  • GBS
    July 24, 2014 - 09:41

    Another example at how the cost of living for Goose Bay has gone up because greedy people want to take their share of money from the workers of Muskrat Falls. The only problem is they can afford it and it's only hurting the rest of the town that can't get a job across the river or somewhere for 25 bucks an hour.

  • Nicole
    July 23, 2014 - 19:53

    maturity leave= maternity leave?

  • scott budgell
    July 23, 2014 - 17:35

    we were and are in same boat , 3 kids oldest 7 and another one on the way , crazy how much people charge for babysitting , my spouse makes just a little more then minimum wage , average about 90.00 a day , then taxes come out , we had sitters who asked for 90 a day and we supply everything , also they want tax free cash , would can work like that , who would go to work to go in the hole. this town should look at more child care solutions