Nursery school principal bemoans unnecessary paperwork – The Royal Gazette
Children and staff have lunch at the new City Strivers Nursery School in Hamilton (photo provided)
The owner of a new kindergarten in Hamilton says government regulations need to change to help more local business owners get started without taking on heavy debt.
When Ajale Williams started City Strivers at Wesley Methodist Church on Church Street last year, she thought it would open in August 2021. Instead, due to health department rules, she didn’t open only in January.
“I never imagined it would take me this long to open,” Ms Williams said.
She said that when you build a house, you first draw plans and then submit them to planning for approval, but when opening a kindergarten, it’s the reverse procedure, as far as the Ministry of Health.
“The health department told me I had to rent the place, set up the nursery, put everything in there, and then they would come out and inspect it and say we can’t give you a license because of A, B , C. It’s a treat.”
Ms Williams felt it would have made sense for her to submit plans first and ask the Department of Health to make recommendations on that basis, especially as there was previously a nursery in the space.
Prior to receiving approval, she could not advertise for staff or students, or use her company name publicly, in any way.
Because she was paying rent during the process, she spent $30,000 before recruiting a single student.
“And once the green light was given, I had to recruit students and staff,” she said. “It took time. The system is built in such a way that it does not help you move forward. In fact, it’s holding you back. You can quickly get into debt with this structure.
But the Ministry of Health said The Royal Gazette they are confident that the current process for opening daycares is appropriate and provide guidance on best practices to protect the safety and well-being of children.
A Department of Health spokesperson said it is preferable for a daycare center to have furniture in place for an on-site visit, but not required.
“The Department of Health’s child care regulatory team is working diligently to facilitate new applicants through phone calls, emails and site visits,” the gatekeeper said. -word. “While it is not appropriate to comment on individual applications, it should be noted that it would not be appropriate to endorse a child car center without a location. An inspection and site visit to the proposed daycare site is essential to the approval process.
Despite the challenges, Ms Williams is now operational with five members of staff, including herself, and 15 children aged three months to three years.
While researching the market, she found that there was a particular demand for baby care.
“A lot of parents have to go back to work when their baby is three months old,” Ms Williams said. “They are looking for someone who is suitable for their newborn.”
The pandemic has created additional challenges. Many parents still work from home for part of the week.
“Fifty to sixty percent of our children are here three days a week,” she said.
To please parents who work long hours in the city, its hours are between 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Despite the challenges, she loves her new business. City Strivers is the realization of a long-held dream for Ms. Williams.
“I was the eldest of seven children and I loved it,” she said. “And even at school when I went out on a work-study program I always went to kindergarten. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I have always had a passion for children. »
She worked for other nurseries for a long time, but after the pandemic hit, she decided the time was right. Her four children were no longer babies, aged 23 to 13.
“Going out alone was really exciting and a bit nerve-wracking,” she said.
It is determined to provide families with quality childcare services.
“I wanted to make sure that when parents drop off their kids, they feel safe,” she said. “Opening in the middle of a pandemic, this is the first time many parents have left their children with someone else.”
It can accommodate up to 30 children.
“As the numbers increase, we will hire more staff,” she said.
She said business was starting to pick up as news of City Strivers spread.
“We’re starting to get calls and emails,” she said.
Ms Williams said working with very young children is not a job that everyone can do.
“You have to be passionate,” she says. “It has to be something you really enjoy doing and something you want to do. There is a lot of work to do. But at the end of the day, I like the challenge.“
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