Daycares unfairly forced to close

POSTED: 02/27/13 1:56 PM

St. Maarten – An estimated five day care centers are contemplating closure in wake of national regulations they see as being unfairly imposed. While declining to identify the centers specifically, chairman of the St. Maarten United Non-governmental Federation (SUNFED) Alberto Bute says that the daycares are tired of being harassed and want the official recognition and implementation of early childhood education.

Bute told the media on Monday that he along with some 40 representatives of day cares met with a parliamentary committee chaired by National Alliance Member of Parliament Dr. Lloyd Richardson three weeks ago.

“It had to do with them paying turnover taxes, being treated as businesses, the health conditions and the demands being placed on the day care institutions but without the structural and financial assistance to meet these demands. In order to meet the standards, they also show that they need to increase prices but they can’t go and increase a fee of $140.00 to $250.00 because they will lose the customer. But neither does the Inspectorate of Health which brings all of these demands understand. The daycares are limited in the amount of students or teachers they can have per class.
There is discrimination also because some public schools are not placed on those same limitations. While they have the advantage of having their own buildings and subsidies, the daycares have to rent buildings yet meet the same rules and regulations,” Bute said. 

The group also discussed the formal recognition of daycares which provide an invaluable service to the community.
“It is not daycare in terms of babysitting but it is part of continued education. Studies show that for people to excel in this modern era, education must start at the daycare level. That is why we have to give it special attention and not superficial. We should not put unnecessary pressure on these institutions but recognize the important role they play in our society. It is a social service that they are doing especially for single mothers and they are subjected to the TOT,” Bute added.
He said that Richardson is now busy drafting a formal proposal following the meeting to present to Parliament. Bute said that SUNFED is looking a joint venture to see how the doors of the daycares can remain open. All of the institutions he confirmed are registered at non-profit organizations.
“The daycares themselves employ more people than Pelican and if you don’t nurture it right, it can create problems.”

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