To thousands of Vancouver parents and caregivers with irregular work- and home-life schedules, a fully licensed, ethically run daycare centre available for last-minute bookings has long been nothing but a dream.
Enter Budding Children’s Garden and Daycare, brainchild of co-owners Talia and Lawrence Erickson. Financed through Vancity’s microloan program and two programs offered through Tale’awtxw Aboriginal Capital Corporation (TACC) – the First Citizens Fund and the Aboriginal Business Development Program, Buddings offers flexible, occasional childcare that caregivers can schedule as they need it, either online or through a smartphone application.
‘We offer childcare that is really flexible,’ says Talia. ‘People can use it for one hour at a time or they can book with an hour’s notice if something pops up. Parents often have spontaneous childcare needs and we offer scheduling that suits their needs.’
The pent-up demand for such a service was immediately obvious as soon as Buddings opened its doors. Since earning its licence from Vancouver Coastal Health in November 2011, Buddings has seen a phenomenal response from the public, says Talia, especially from self-employed, home-based business people and stay-at-home caregivers.
‘Childcare in Vancouver is in very high demand,’ says Talia, ‘and there aren’t a lot of options for families. A lot of families end up being in a position where they don’t really get what they need.’
By contrast, the Buddings model is designed to respect the diverse lifestyles of Vancouverites. ‘We have an environment where the whole spectrum of Vancouver lifestyles fit with us. We have families of all different cultures. We have people with all different types of jobs. We’re inclusive; whatever people need and whatever way their lives roll out, we’re supporting them—and making sure they have access to great childcare.’
Buddings combines convenience and flexibility with a strong emphasis on sustainability, incorporating environmentally friendly cleansers, organic snacks, low-water-usage washing, an indoor worm compost, and even a small grow-light herb garden through which the children can learn about growing organic food. This environmentally friendly approach, combined with the value of its business model, made Buddings a natural fit for Vancity’s microloan program.
Also, Buddings provided an opportunity for Vancity to work with other partners to create value in the community.
‘Through TACC, Talia and Lawrence were able to secure a loan from First Citizens Fund and a grant from the Aboriginal Business Development Program, so it was great to work with those community partners,’ says Bhavesh Chauhan, small business specialist at Vancity. ‘They needed an amount that none of us could approve single-handedly, but as a team all three of us worked together to make it possible.’
To Vancouver parents left out in the cold by more traditional daycare schedules, the result of this teamwork—Budding Children’s Garden and Daycare—amounts to a dream come true.