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Sudden Sooke daycare closure leaves parents scrambling
Sooke News Mirror - 2/4/2020
Several families are struggling to cope with the fallout from the bureaucratic bungling that's led to the closure of Compass Day Care in Sooke.
Sooke families are scrambling to find care for their young children, and for one family, the outcome could mean the loss of their house.
Amanda Hounsome's son, Leo is two years old and was one of the first children enrolled at the daycare when it opened last year.
"He'd had a surgery when he was an infant, but by September he was ready to go into daycare. We were so thrilled to get a spot so close to home and he's been very happy there," Hounsome said.
"When we learned that the daycare was closing, we were devastated. I have Leo's name on waiting lists everywhere, but there just aren't any spaces available. One place told me that they might be able to get him in in September.
The lack of daycare means Hounsome will likely lose her job as a pharmacy assistant, and the family will be unable to make their mortgage payments and will likely lose their house.
"I understand that the people at municipal hall tried to help out with the permits after they found out they'd messed up, and they've apologized, but that isn't going to mean much if I have to put my house up for sale," Hounsome said.
The daycare's troubles began in October when it received a call from municipal staff saying Compass Day Care didn't have a business license.
That came as a shock since the District of Sooke accepted payment for a licence in May, and assured the daycare operators they would be sent confirmation by mail.
A communication breakdown occurred with district staff, and the daycare was suddenly faces with thousands of dollars in extra costs, such as architectural drawings and engineer reports, by the district before a business licence would be issued.
Wendy Morneau, the daycare's manager, said without the license, the operation had to reduce the number of children to the point where it was losing money.
"The owners just can't afford to keep operating like this and have decided to close the center at the end of February," Morneau said.
She is now working to find a space in Sooke where she might open her own centre.
"Ideally, we would need a space with a yard for outdoor play, and I would need some help with simple carpentry to put up some shelves. I'd also need some help to move equipment and furnishings into that location," she said.
Morneau said she may not be able to do what's needed to provide a space for the displaced children.
Raechel Gray, Sooke's acting chief administrative officer, did try to repair the problem (that was not of her making).
She expressed regret Compass decided to close.
"We tried our best in this case to help the situation, and it's too bad that it wasn't enough," she said.
Those regrets come as little comfort to Hounsome.
"I get that they feel bad, but that isn't going to get me childcare or help me keep my house," Hounsome said.