At SIGIS, SAFETY REMAINS #1
Since 1994, SIGIS Child Care Society has been taking care of children in St. Albert and surrounding area. Throughout 27 years, SIGIS has kept its promise of providing quality child care. Starting with one location and six children, SIGIS has grown to 20 locations. COVID-19 pandemic did put the organization’s resources at its’ truest test.
Faced with the task of ensuring the 800 children in their care were in the safest possible environment, 145 educators in 2 day care facilities and 18 out-of-school care locations took the Guidance for Child Care issued by Alberta Health Service and developed their own COVID-19 Procedure Manual.
“We took all of the recommendations in the AHS guideline and developed policies to ensure our locations were operating at the highest safety standards,” said Tricia Cunningham, SIGIS’s Executive Director. “We thought of everything from training our educators on the procedures outlined in SIGIS’ COVID Manual, purchasing electrostatic sprayers as well as necessary PPE. We also adjusted schedules to ensure all locations had time when the educators were out of ratio so that cleaning could take place during the day. We carefully structured each location with multiple rooms to operate in separate cohorts. If a case of COVID-19 hits, we don’t have to close the whole facility, only the room affected would have to close.”
The provincial government lockdown in 2020 meant that SIGIS had to shut its doors on March 15th, but within a month, one of the out-of-school care facilities was operating for essential workers, with the rest of the locations up and running by the beginning of June. Since April, SIGIS has only had seven cases of COVID between all 20 locations.
“With our procedures in place, those situations were handled quickly to ensure the safety of the children & educators,” added Cunningham.
The educators of SIGIS continue to adhere to the strict guidelines and are committed to delivering a high-quality program that families can rely on. All educators are certified as an ECE Level 1, 2, & 3 with many achieving a higher level through SIGIS’ professional development program.
SIGIS PRIORITIZES LEARNING
Remaining uncompromised is SIGIS’s unique programming that takes a curriculum approach to learning. The educators understand how their lesson plans play an instrumental role in the learning and development of children.
The programming is based on age, such as infants (0-19 months), toddlers/preschool (19 months-preschool), kindergarten and out-of-school care. All the content is geared towards addressing children’s needs and interests, especially when it comes to covering all aspects of a child’s overall development. They’re encouraged to be curious and express their ideas about their environment and are given a wide range of opportunities to explore experiences conducted in a secure environment. Children learn various life skills such as creativity, problem-solving and teamwork. The curriculum interest is constantly changed, and the educators alter the room environment to support the curriculum interest.
Parents are encouraged to attend the society’s monthly board meetings which are currently being held virtually. This allows parents to gather more insight into how SIGIS operates and take a more active role in the society. The society’s board of directors have an avid interest in child care, with most of them being parents themselves as well as residents in the city and active participants in their relative communities.
While SIGIS ensures all the bases are covered when it comes to the children, they’re also conscious of the financial needs of the parents. Infant fees are $1,140, toddler/preschool fees are $940, kindergarten fees range from $580 to $750 and out-of-school children are $460/month. SIGIS’ monthly child care fees are lower than the provincial average; however, they still encourage parents to look at subsidy programs provided by the provincial government.
SIGIS GIVES BACK TO EDUCATORS & FAMILIES
With some of the recent financial support from the Provincial Government that has been given to all child care programs, SIGIS Child Care Society has chosen to use those additional funds to support their educators and families.
“All educators receive paid sick leave for when they need to be away from the program due to sickness or COVID symptoms. We want our educators only coming to work when they are healthy and not be worried about missing out on pay,” Cunningham stated.
To support families, Cunningham also adds that SIGIS has implemented a COVID Credit Program. If a child is away from the program for 2 or more days in a month due to sickness, required isolation or positive COVID test, the family is eligible to receive a credit towards their next month’s fees.
“What we’re trying to do is help our families as much as we can during this time,” Tricia said. “By recognizing we are in a difficult time, we are doing our part in helping everyone out.”
Another way that SIGIS is giving back to families this year is by reducing summer fees for July & August for all age groups. The Daycare families will receive a $50 savings/child/month, and the OSC families a $100 savings/child/month. Summer 2021 fees for OSC children will be $500/month/child or $150/week/child and kindergarten children will be $600/month or $150/week.
“We have also re-evaluated our Kindergarten fees for the upcoming school year to align with the new Early Learning and Child Care Regulation that came into effect February 1, 2021. Kindergarten fees commencing September 2021 will be $500/month for children attending full-day, every day kindergarten, and $600/month for children attending ½ day or alternating day kindergarten,” Cunningham stated.
SIGIS Child Care Society is committed to supporting their families, children and educators. Contact SIGIS to see how they can meet your family’s needs.
SIGIS Child Care Society
780 460 1024
This sponsored content was produced in partnership between Sigis Child Care Society and T8N Magazine