B.C. mother says lack of child care could leave her homeless

Click to play video: 'Desperate Surrey mother stages one-woman child care protest'
Desperate Surrey mother stages one-woman child care protest
A Surrey single mother is staging a one-woman protest outside her son's elementary school, saying she faces homelessness if she doesn't get before and after school child care. Jennifer Palma reports. – May 3, 2024

A single Surrey, B.C., mother who works in the trades says she’s facing homelessness if she can’t solve her child-care problems.

Alisha Ludlow works as a plumber but had to take the day off Friday because it was a Pro-D day at her eight-year-old son Jacob’s school.

She spent the day instead putting up posters as a protest and to raise awareness about the lack of available child-care spaces.

“I need to go to work and he to school, I need three to four hours of care,” she said.

“I can’t get my foot in the door.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. eliminates child care waitlist fees'
B.C. eliminates child care waitlist fees

Ludlow has been trying to find child care that functions with the early schedule she works as a plumber.

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At her son’s school, she said, there are just 36 spots in before- and after-school care with a student body of 900.

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She said she has tried everything to get care for her son, including moving cities, and looking for nannies, babysitters and daycares.

Her inability to find care means she often works just four hours a day, not enough to make ends meet.

“With my four hours of working a week … I won’t be able to pay my rent and pay anything in between, because I won’t have an income,” she said.

“It’s just coming to a point where I’m going to be homeless if I don’t find something in a matter of time.”

Ludlow has contacted all levels of government, and Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke has even reached out to the province on her behalf.

The Surrey School District said it recognizes families have child-care challenges, and that there are 70 out of 103 elementary schools that have childcare provided through external child-care providers.

“As a district, where possible, we make as much space available and then the operator determines if they have the demand to rent additional space and if they have the resources to staff it,” spokesperson Ritinder Matthew said.

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Sharon Gregson, provincial spokesperson for the $10-a-Day Child Care Campaign in B.C. said the province needs to step in and mandate that schools be used in more creative ways.

Click to play video: 'B.C. not meeting targets on $10-a-day childcare'
B.C. not meeting targets on $10-a-day childcare

“Some of them have very full enrolment but those schools who can accommodate children between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., we think there’s also more opportunity to accommodate them before school and after school,” she said.

In a statement, the Ministry of Education and Childcare said the number of licensed child-care spaces in B.C. had grown from 111,000 to 148,000 since 2018.

“In Surrey alone, there are more than 2,300 child care spaces on school grounds, including more than 290 before- and after-school spaces that were opened just last year with support from the ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund,” the Ministry said.

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“We will continue our efforts to make access to affordable, quality, inclusive child care a core service that families can rely on because we know it’s life-changing.”

Meanwhile, Ludlow said she is running out of time.

“I’m at a standstill. I feel like nothing is going to change and it is frustrating for me,” Ludlow said.

“The provincial government needs to see this problem. I need to go to work and my son needs to go to school.”

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