As a search and rescue technician, Scarlett Hansen has volunteered during previous evacuations and has seen the impact the process has on families.
Hansen, who is also director of operations for the Maple Tree Early Learning and Development Centre, said families typically leave with just the clothes on their backs and perhaps a backpack. Children have minimal possessions and are put up in a hotel or community centre with parents.
Hansen said the Maple Tree day care, which is located in leased space inside Oasis Church on Rogers Way in Aberdeen, has extra space and she and manager Brian Fleming decided to offer free day care to families who have had to belle the flames,
She said the offer is being made in an effort to help families reduce their stress levels.
“Maybe they’re trying to work right now and they can’t because they can’t just leave their children in the hotel and go off for the day — and it’s a financial burden being evacuated from your house,” Hansen said.
“Also, the kids are all stressed out. At least if they come to day care, it will ease their minds. They’ll be able to connect with other children and play games and get their minds off of what is actually going on.”
The centre, which offers infant to school-aged care, is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Hansen said availability is fluid from day to day, based on current vacancies, children who may be on summer holidays with family or kids who are sick.
Parents are required to provide some sort of proof of evacuation and to register the child, due to regulatory requirements. Children are being kept indoors for now, due to wildfire smoke outside and the associated air quality advisory, but Maple Tree has the use of a large gymnasium for kids to burn off steam.
“Since we’re not utilizing that space, we thought why not help out the community?” Hansen said.
Evacuees seeking child care can contact Maple Tree by calling 250-828-8060 or emailing email@example.com.