Border City daycare facility to close its doors

By Kassidy Christensen

March 14, 2017 12:00 AM

AMEN Footprints Family Centre will close its doors for the final time next month due to poor enrolment. SUPPLIED PHOTO

The Footprints Family Centre (FFC) in Lloydminster has made the difficult decision to close its doors.
The childcare facility, operated by Catholic Social Services, will cease operation April 15 due to financial struggles. 
Jason Gariepy, communications manager with Catholic Social Services, said in the three years it’s been open, the daycare was running at a significant operational deficit.
FFC has an enrolment capacity of 72 children and Gariepy explained they could never get much beyond 36 enrolments and had a utilization rate of approximately 50 per cent.
“We’ve operated Footprints since Oct. 1, 2013, and at the time it appeared there was a need for more daycare type facilities in Lloydminster,” Gariepy said.
Catholic Social Services has been in operation for more than 50 years and is one of the largest multi-service social services agencies in Canada, Gariepy said.
The agency offers a variety of social services, which the organization calls ministries, for people with disabilities, counseling, and women’s shelters, among others.
“We have about over 100 different ministries offered throughout the Edmonton area, but also through central Alberta,” Gariepy said.
In Lloydminster, Catholic Social Services also offers counseling services, family capacity building, family intervention, senior connections, gateway for newcomers support and home support for adults with disabilities.
Despite FFC’s location in a family-oriented neighbourhood—near École St Thomas Elementary—the modern facility and hiring the very best caring and dedicated child care professionals, Gariepy said, it just never caught on like they hoped it would.
In a press release issued by Catholic Social Services, Gariepy said, “… Catholic Social Services had to make the difficult choice whether or not to continue to subsidize childcare operations or focus our resources on serving vulnerable individuals and families in other priority areas.
“Certainly at this point it would be fair to say our priority areas are sanctity of life,” Gariepy said, adding the services offered provide support for people mentally, physically and spiritually.
Catholic Social Services has given notice of the upcoming closure to the families that attend the daycare to give them sufficient time to find alternative programming, Gariepy said.
“Every family is going to have their own criteria. Whether it’s geographical location or staff ratio, or programming, there are a number of different variables, it becomes a very personal choice.
“Really what we want to do is give them a fair amount of time to find the right fit for their child,” he said.
The agency is also currently working with the FFC staff to determine next steps.
“It’s a difficult time for staff as well … for many of our staff this had been a three-year journey for them as well and this is hard for them because they are very committed, they’re dedicated, they care about the children,” Gariepy said.
Gariepy expressed the agency looks forward to continuing to do work in Lloydminster and hopes the city would be open to them doing other types of programs.
“One of the things the agency is constantly looking for is to understand the needs, the social services needs of the community and I know the agency would be very open to hearing what some of those challenges might be,” he said.

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