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People's Power and Childcare

Community-Run Childcare in the Face of Cut Backs

by BASICS NewsN. Zahra

Some kids from the Little Lemurs Parenting Collective
Some kids from the Little Lemurs Parenting Collective

As the old Yoruba (Nigerian) proverb goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  With government support for affordable childcare decreasing, the community has to take things in hand.  This past January, a group of parents living in northwest Toronto came together and started a “community parenting co-op” to begin to address the crisis of childcare that so many families are facing.

A parenting co-op is an arrangement where a group of parents share childcare and other responsibilities associated with parenting. It could involve playgroups, grocery shopping, child-minding, meal preparation or any other task associated with childcare. The idea for this project came to them about a year before when they started looking into the real cost of childcare in the city.  With the average daycare cost for a one year old ranging between $1,000-$2,000, and almost 19,500 children from infants to school-aged waiting for childcare subsidies, they were under no illusion that they could get much help caring for the children from the city.

When asked what is a parenting co-op and why they started one, one of the parents, Steve da Silva, said: “We want to build people’s power and community self-reliance so that we are not solely dependent on the State, at this time when “austerity” cuts demonstrate that the government really doesn’t care about working-class families. We want to care for children with people who share our vision of turning to the power of the people in our communities to not only do-for-self, but to take a political stance while we’re at it. We also need time as parents to get things done and continue having a healthy relationship with our children, our spouses, and our communities… this is something that is informally done anyway among parents who cannot find or afford childcare.  So far, it has been a great way to build community amongst the adults involved.”

The parenting co-op, now calling itself the Little Lemurs Parenting Collective, is actively working to build beyond its current size to build a “Community Parenting Movement,” a network of parenting co-ops across the city that can provide for our children at a time when our families are under attack.

If you are interested in building a parenting co-op in your neighbourhood,

Let’s build people’s power and fight back against austerity!

First published in BASICS.


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