Participants who access OKC’s Emergency Childcare program are often families who simply cannot afford childcare, do not have access to childcare because of shortages in availability and who don’t have reliable supports in place who can take care of their children when needed. Many of these families struggle with multiple comorbidities of negative social determinants of health such as being low-income, struggling with food security, struggling with mental health, not having access to a family doctor etc. The Emergency Childcare provides these parents an opportunity to leave their children in a free, safe space so that they can receive help to try and change their financial status, go to job interviews or search for jobs, improve their mental health by having the opportunity to go and see a counsellor, go to a doctor for ailments, or simply taking time to socialize or take a break and do something for their self-care.
Our Kids Count has repeatedly heard from parents who access this program that it allows them to “breathe” and that it gives them time to do things on their own that they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. One parent in particular uses the Emergency Childcare to seek help for previous trauma surrounding domestic abuse and has told staff that they feel like the ability to seek out help, while knowing their child is safe, is making them a better parent – and hopefully – breaking the generational trauma that abuse such as this can have on families.
Another family has been coming to our Emergency Childcare because they are new to Canada from Malaysia and are living in an extended family member’s basement. Unfortunately, the family member they live with cannot help with childcare. They discussed feelings of isolation and OKC’s RECE was able to help alleviate some of that isolation and engage their child in fun activities while the parents looked for other supports. They have told OKC that this has helped them to feel more welcomed into Canadian life, that they now know there are places they can access help from and that they now feel more confident in building new relationships in their new world.
Emergency Childcare has proven invaluable for many families and has proven successful. Relationships with families and children are being made and with the continuation of this program more trust and supports will be built. We see the program growing and becoming even more utilized as families hear more positive outcomes from it.