Child care is one of any community’s most important needs and affects everyone whether they think of it or not.
“Wherever you go, you are probably dealing with some people who have children in child care,” said Mandy Humphrey, administrative assistant, North Okanagan Child Care Society (NOCCS). The society was founded by parents in 1994 and remains a parent-driven, non-profit organization with professional early childhood educators providing a variety of programs for children ages infant to 12.
“Child Care Month is a time to recognize the importance of child care facilities of all kinds and the services they provide the community. We are dealing with our community’s most precious resource, our children,” said Humphrey.
“There is never, ever, a replacement for mom but we provide the next best thing to being with mom.”
She noted that stay-at-home parents recognize the importance of pre-school education for social skills and picking up on any developmental issues so that children can be prepared for school.
“We have wonderful, trained early childhood educators here and they work with the support services in the community,” said Humphrey, a former international corporate administrator, who became interested in early childhood education when she took her daughter to day care.
“I was so impressed with what they were teaching her that I had to get involved,” she said.
NOCCS is the second-largest day care facility in Canada with 180 children attending daily and serving more than 220 families, with a long waiting list. There are more than 30 staff members.
“Parents may not be aware of all the different programs but we help them choose the ones that are best for their children and expand their awareness of childhood learning,” said Humphrey.
NOCCS funding comes from government grants for each licensed space, fees and fundraising.
“We always need to be fundraising to help maintain the high standards we demand of ourselves and to support continuing education and training for our staff. Our staff is very important to us.
“It’s a very stressful job and you have to have so much passion and dedication. We hope everyone will take some time in May to say a special thank you to their child care providers.”
While NOCCS has to fundraise, the organization also gives back to the community, most recently with a donation of $500 to the SUN-FM Have-a-Heart Radiothon to help equip one of the new rooms for babies at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.
NOCCS brings back the popular Summer Solstice Soirée, an elegant evening which includes a chance to dress up (black tie and flipflops suggested), enjoy tapas, live music, a silent auction with great prizes (family tickets to Disney World and much more) and dancing.
“Everybody told us they had a great time last year and they’ve been the first to buy tickets for this year. It’s fun and it’s for a worthy cause,” said Humphrey.
The Summer Solstice Soirée takes place June 3 at Paddlewheel Hall on Okanagan Lake starting at 7 p.m. with dancing at 10 p.m. tickets are $50 each with a $25 charitable donation receipt provided for each ticket purchased. Tickets must be purchased by May 25 at www.noccs.ca or by calling 250-558-9963 (ext.202).