'I thought it was kind of ridiculous': Childcare facilities in Manitoba want improvements to new search tool

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Childcare facilities in Manitoba are wanting their voices heard regarding the new search tool launched by the province at the end of August.

On Tuesday, The Manitoba Child Care Association, voiced concerns about the new tool and now daycares are speaking out about the difficulties it is causing.

Carol Jones, the executive director of Little People's Place Daycare in Winnipeg, said while the old registry had problems, no one was expecting a whole new tool.

"Reintroducing another app, with very little input from the childcare sector, I thought it was kind of ridiculous," said Jones. "It really didn't explain where or how this was going to come about, so it was again being put back on the centres."

Jones said this has been a frustrating process and has been leaning on the help of a third party to try and figure everything out.

She has been using the company Fastoche, which is a childcare management software company in Winnipeg, and they provide software solutions to help manage their day-to-day operations.

Chris Gaulin is the founder and CEO of Fastoche. He said he has been hearing about a lot of problems, not only from facilities but parents as well.

"Our hope is really actually that, given the situation, we'd be able to take the data from the government system and be able to migrate that over so families could maintain their spot and then the centres would be able to take it on from there. Unfortunately, that hasn't really happened," said Gaulin.

He said Fastoche has put a mechanism in place so they can get the basic data, but even then, there are still problems.

"Families still have to click on a link and put in their information because the government didn't even give us names of the children, didn't give us the names of parents, dates of birth, all that basic info."

Gaulin added all they have is an email address and a phone number to contact families, noting this would be too much work for just a daycare to do on their own.

Even though a centralized waitlist was difficult for facilities, Gaulin said it worked well for families, and the province just needed to put some work into the system to make it more up-to-date.

He feels the province should have put in some standards for how waitlists were managed.

Jones said the way the new tool was rolled out, it felt like the province was wiping its hands of the registry and putting the responsibility elsewhere.

She added it feels like the new program is a lost cause and it is just going to cause more frustration for centres and families.

"I really don't think the province thought this through," said Jones, who added it is tough explaining to parents that the centres didn't start the problems but they now have to deal with the mess afterward.

A spokesperson for the province said that the new tool was created with feedback from the childcare facilities and parents and that the "tool will be reviewed regularly for potential improvements."

"Facilities are now responsible for independently managing their own waitlists and are able to choose a waitlist process that best suits their specific operational needs. We encourage families to contact the facilities they are interested in directly to re-confirm interest, learn about the facility and find estimated wait times," the spokesperson said.