New guide aims to help Nunavut daycares do their admin work

Territory lacks a centralized governing body for childcare centres

Pond Inlet’s Pirurvik Preschool and Iqaluit’s Tumikuluit Daycare have teamed up to create a user-friendly administrator’s guide for daycare operators in Nunavut. (Photo courtesy of Pirurvik Preschool)

By Beth Brown

Nunavut day care operators have a thick new manual to help them navigate their daily administrative tasks.

The 522-page guide, titled Nunavut Daycares: An Administrators Guide, was born out of the “shared frustration” of daycare providers across the territory, co-author Tessa Lochhead said.

It’s also based on grassroots experience in developing Nunavut-specific childcare programming, by Lochhead and by Karen Nutarak of Pond Inlet’s Pirurvik Preschool and Noodloo Peter of Iqaluit’s Inuktitut-only Tumikuluit Daycare.

Peter is also a co-author of the guide, which contains examples of parent invoices, employee time-sheets, financial statements, parent feedback forms and minutes of board meetings.

Such a manual is needed because there’s no single oversight body in Nunavut for early childhood education, the guide said.

“Nunavut currently lacks a centralized governing body with the capacity to oversee, and administer, daycares and ELCC centers in Nunavut,” the guide’s introduction said.

“This fragmented context results in several negative outcomes, including: high turnover of staff and administration, a deficiency of pay equity, and a lack of professional development opportunities.”

Many daycares are run by community-based boards that are largely made up of parents who may not have experience managing a daycare or a preschool.

“They need to literally build their own daycares,” Lochhead said.

This means that in trying to meet the strict requirements for licensed daycares in Nunavut, managers can get overwhelmed.

The guide was circulated to Nunavut childcare programs in the fall, through support from the Department of Education.

Because the guide is available electronically, community groups are able to take the soft copy forms and update them for their own use.

“Daycares were really excited,” Lochhead said.

It seems simple, but for part-time parent-run boards, and for understaffed and overworked daycare workers, this is huge, she said.

The new guide also covers licensing requirements, monthly operational and maintenance reporting, and curriculum support.

And the guide lists ways of finding the funding programs that are scattered among Inuit organizations and the territorial and federal governments.

“These complex webs of funding make it very difficult to initiate, build and sustain programming in daycares across the territory,” Lochhead said.

The administrator’s guide is meant to support a 2014 legal manual for early childhood education published by the Department of Education, called, “Understanding Nunavut’s Child Day Care Regulations.”

“The volume of the guide was telling as to how complicated it is to run a day care in Nunavut,” she said.

Iqaluit’s Tumikuluit daycare was opened in 2007 by “a group of Inuit mothers who wanted a daycare where quality care was provided in Inuktitut and Inuit culture,” the guide said.

It was the first and only all-Inuktitut daycare in the territory at that time.

In Pond Inlet, the Pirurvik preschool, which opened in 2016, is a success because of community engagement, Lochhead said, and because the preschool partnered with Nunavut Arctic College to offer practicum time for local students studying early childhood education in Pond Inlet.

The guide was supported by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and the Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corp. Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun versions are currently being printed.

Pirurvik Preschool is currently shortlisted for an Arctic Inspiration prize, a $1 million grant that would allow the group to support culturally relevant daycare and early childhood education programming in seven Nunavut communities.

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