Increased births put more pressure on child care
Infant care in highest demand
By: By Megan Sarrazin
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 08, 2012 06:00 am
Nearly a decade of rising birth rates since 2000 in the greater Edmonton area is still translating to added pressure on local child-care facilities and medical professionals trained in maternity care.
“There’s a high need in child care, especially for younger children,” said Brandy Currie, executive director of the St. Albert Day Care Society. “We get at least two or three phone calls a day for child care.”
The general fertility rate – the number of live births per 1,000 women of reproductive age – climbed year over year from 2000 to 2008 in the region, from 42.5 in 2000 to 52 in 2008. Birth rates have generally been flat since then.
St. Albert saw a more modest increase, with a rate of 33.6 in 2000 increasing to 37.4 in 2008.
According to preliminary municipal census statistics, St. Albert had more than 2,500 children from birth to four years of age.
Currie said the highest demand for care is for infants under 19 months – a service the society does not provide due to facility and cost constraints.
At the 19-month mark, parents can expect to wait 1.5 years to register their child for day care. The cost at St. Albert Day Care is $755 per child per month.
“I’ve been in the child-care field for about 18 years and really, the biggest [increase in demand] is over the past five years,” Currie said. “I think it’s only going to get more and more as our population increases.”
Tricia Cunningham, executive director with SIGIS Child Care Society, is also seeing increased demand for infant care.
SIGIS provides day care ranging from $700 to $1,000, depending on age. The waiting list for under five years of age is at least two years and has been that way for the last six years.
“We have people on the list that, as soon as they find out they’re pregnant, phone us,” Cunningham said. “We’ve only seen a steady increase.”
She said the society is looking at doubling its services from the current 12-infant capacity, adding it could take months before that happens.
Currie said if parents are unable to find day care, they are often left seeking second or third choice care, like grandparents, friends or even taking an extended maternity leave.
“I think that we really need to continue on with partnerships within St. Albert, within government, within other non-profit organizations to create more child-care spaces that can accommodate for the high demand,” she said.
Currie said she hopes the society will be able to provide infant child care and will continue seeking grants and alternative funding to create spaces.
Increased fertility rate is also putting more demand on local physicians trained in maternity care.
The St. Albert and Sturgeon Primary Care Network’s business plan notes maternity care as a priority initiative due to increased demand.
“Eleven family physicians provide Primary Care Maternity and are dedicated and committed to women in need of managed maternity care,” it says. “The volume and demand for this program has increased with expectations that the trend will continue.”
Despite the increase in fertility rate, no additional pressure is being felt by the Sturgeon Community Hospital, said Doreen Desmond, program manager for labour and delivery.
The 2010 fiscal year had 2,605 babies delivered at the hospital, increasing three per cent in 2011 to 2,675 deliveries.
“I’d say we’re fairly stable, like we’ve been for the last three years or so. I would not say that the birth rate has increased in St. Albert,” Desmond said. “My statistics show that it’s staying relatively stable.
She said when births increased a handful of years ago, another unit was opened to provide more beds and more private rooms for deliveries. The additional beds continue to meet the demand, she said.
The hospital sees a large volume of deliveries from patients north of St. Albert as well as in north Edmonton. She said this is because the hospital is low-risk and offers a unique labour, delivery, recovery, post-partum concept.
“We’re the only hospital in the area and Northern Alberta who offer this kind of service that you can labour and deliver in one room without moving to postpartum unit,” she said.
General Fertility Rate, Births/1,000 women of reproductive age