MAPLETON – Local officials continue to make their case for government funding to create licensed child care spaces here.
For the past few months township officials have been working with the County of Wellington and the Wellington Catholic District School Board on potential local options. The Catholic board is proposing to build an elementary school in Mapleton to serve both Mapleton and Minto.
“We just finished a meeting online with the Ministry of Education,” said Mayor Gregg Davidson in his opening remarks at the April 26 council meeting.
Davidson said the meeting included township CAO Manny Barron, recreation manager Amy Grose along with Luisa Artuso, director of Wellington County’s Children’s Early Years division and a representative of the catholic school board, as well as the deputy minister of education and ministry staff.
“We had a nice conversation,” said Davidson. “It went quite well. We talked about Mapleton, we talked about our need for childcare within the township and how we are a desert within the county as everyone around us seems to have childcare except us … Guelph/Eramosa has 87 childcare spaces, and they have a lower population than us.
“So we made sure that the ministry was aware of our needs.”
After school care expanded
Later in the meeting, council approved a recommendation from Grose to expand the after-school child care program currently offered at Drayton Heights Public School to include Maryborough Public School.
Council approved an agreement with Upper Grand District School Board for the operation of the program and the hiring of program staff.
The township has been operating the Drayton Heights program since September of 2021.
“We have been really excited about the success of our program at Drayton Heights, and we all know that there is a need to expand childcare programs within Mapleton,” Grose told council.
“This is a way that Mapleton is able to expand our program to Maryborough and help those families in Moorefield with childcare. It’s not zero to four (years) yet, but this helps certainly take some of the stress off of families that need that care for their school-aged children after school.”
Grose added, “We are hoping that down the road we’ll be able to add before school as well. We are waiting back from the Ministry on permission to be able to do that.”
Davidson noted that during the earlier conversation with ministry officials, “They seem impressed with what we’ve been doing to help the parents, the families, out with our school-aged children.
“But of course, there’s that gap of zero to four years old. And that is our real need.”
“I think this program is just great,” said councillor Dennis Craven.
“I hope it’s as successful in Moorefield as it has been in Drayton, so that maybe another year or two we can look at it for Alma.”
“Right now we would have to look at the growth in Alma,” said Grose.
“The school board has not identified a need there. And neither have our surveys at this point. Not saying that we would not ever include them, but at this point, there hasn’t been a large enough need identified there. We will see what happens in the future for sure.”
“I’m just impressed by how quickly all these programs have been falling into place,” said councillor Marlene Ottens.
“It was almost a little more than a year ago we had none of this here in Mapleton. And now we have school care, before and after, in Drayton, we have it in Moorefield, we have summer camp programs – it’s falling together so well, and it’s been so well received.”
Ottens added, “I just appreciate how quickly and effectively that’s been put together.”
Davidson credited Grose for her efforts on the project.
“The baton was passed to you a year ago to get some programing done within the township. And you’ve taken that baton and you’ve ran past everyone on the track,” the mayor stated.
Grose replied, “I’m very lucky to have some help with the department. And we really just love what we’re doing and we’re happy to be bringing all of these things to Mapleton.”