West Lincoln Ward 2 councillor Shelley Bradaric is advocating for universal child care and the importance of youth to community connection.
According to Bradaric, there are currently only two licensed child care facilities in West Lincoln that take care of children above the age of two, but none that take care of children that are newborn to two years old.
As a result, West Lincoln residents who are in need of that service often end up having to go to Grimsby or St. Catharines or elsewhere, she said. Bradaric is advocating for more licensed child care providers to be established, not just across the Niagara region, but specifically in the West Lincoln area.
“I want to make sure that the regional staff are remembering us over in West Lincoln and that we have some needs,” Bradaric said.
Earlier this year, she was invited to a roundtable talk about child care in the Niagara region as the region, like other regions in the province, plans to reach out to the province to put forth a request for universal health care.
Although Bradaric is not directly involved in the request to the province, she was invited to the roundtable to provide her expertise given her extensive history of working in child care.
“In order for this to work, there has to be a buy-in from the province and every area is going to have their own set of individual priorities because every region is somewhat different than the next,” she said.
She listed Niagara’s mix of urban and rural residential areas and its population of Indigenous people as well as French speakers all as unique needs that would need to be accommodated for if universal child care would come to be.
Although no distinct action has been taken yet by the province or the federal government, the federal budget for 2021 did include a child care action plan that looks to potentially bring the cost of child care down to $10 a day in the next five years and not only boost child care, but child and youth care programming as well.
Bradaric has also been vocal about the importance of not only child care but youth such as adolescents and teens programming during the pandemic. She said that at this time, youth are among the most affected and need youth programming to develop healthy relationships with adults and their community, especially in the case of those who come from unhealthy family backgrounds.
“Youth are resources, young people are useful in their roles and in the community,” she said, adding community involvement for the youth helps support the concept of community service, which is valuable for them in the future.
“Any programs that could be instilled in our community may help young people feel more safe, because those strong adults’ presence will offer them that feeling of safety in their neighbourhood.”
Moosa Imran, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News