Parents whose kids attend a Sapperton after-school program are scrambling after the church that sponsors the program announced it would be shutting its doors at the end of June.
For more than 10 years, Knox Presbyterian Church has housed an out-of-school care program for families in the area. The church founded the daycare back in 2005 as part of its mission work in the community. They connected with Kelly Corbett and offered to provide a free space for her to run the program. She agreed. Today, there are about 15 kids enrolled in Knox’s out-of-school daycare.
But about two years ago, Corbett said she sensed the church wasn’t interested in the daycare anymore. She managed to stave off closure backthen, but now the church is firm in its decision, she said.
“They’ve told me flat out that on June 30 they are … handing in the licence,” she told the Record.
Corbett offered to pay to rent the daycare space, but, after drafting up a rental agreement, Knox backed out, choosing to close the daycare instead.
What’s most frustrating is the church doesn’t have any immediate plans for the space, other than having it available for parishioners when needed, she added.
“It leaves me and my co-worker without a job and it leaves all the kids here without daycare,” Corbett said, adding she even went out in search of a new location in the neighbourhood but was unable to find anything affordable.
In a letter to parents from Knox’s session, the elected board that governs the local church, the church explains it is undergoing a self-examination of sorts to determine its new vision and direction.
“While this process is ongoing, discussions within the board of managers and the session both concluded that a hiatus period would be beneficial, both to the church and the discernment process. Knox will therefore not be hosting an out-of-school care operation after the … closure as of June 30, 2016,” the letter stated.
Parents, meanwhile, are left scrambling to find space for their kids at another after-school program in the area, but so far, the most anyone has got is a spot on a waitlist.
Lesley Feeney’s son attends the Knox out-of-school care program. She chose Knox because she wanted her son to meet kids he would attend Richard McBride Elementary with. Now five years old, her son has grown accustomed to playing with his school friends at Knox.
“It’s just a little fishy and there is no transparency. It’s like, ‘We’re going to have it vacant, we’re going to figure out eventually what to do with it, and maybe we’ll rent it out, maybe we won’t,’” she said.
Feeney would be happy if the church just chose to allow the daycare to stay open until the end of summer, giving parents more time to find a new place for their kids. But as it stands now, Feeney’s son along with the 14 other kids at Knox, will be out just in time for summer break.
“That’s a big difference from right at the beginning of summer,” she added. “It would be something.”
Corbett, however, is less hopeful there will be a resolution, especially when the decision was made without her involvement.
“It’s kind of disturbing because the decisions were all made without any representation from the out-of-school care, and nobody thought to speak to any of the parents. It was a decision made behind closed doors,” Corbett said.
Neither Rev. Richard Watson nor Terry MacPherson, clerk of session, were available for comment at press deadline.