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Parents express frustration as YK after-school spaces fill up

The playground at Yellowknife's NJ Macpherson School. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

As the start of the school year drew closer, Yellowknife parents began to worry as they didn’t hear back about places in the YWCA’s after-school childcare program. Now, the YWCA says all programs are full.

By email, YWCA director of community relations Alayna Ward this week told Cabin Radio: “If you haven’t heard back from the YWCA, received a registration package, and sent this completed package back, it’s safe to say you should be exploring other options for after-school care.

“The YWCA apologizes for the delay in letting parents know they did not get a space.”

The YWCA said those who were not accepted will be added to a waitlist.



The timing of the update has left some parents scrambling to fill a gap in childcare before the start of the school year. 

More than three months after submitting applications, some parents said they had received no confirmation about whether their child was accepted or added to the program’s waitlist. 

“At this point I don’t have any after-school care and I’m panicking a little bit, because my husband and I both work full-time,” said Yellowknife resident and parent Alissa Adams. 

The YWCA runs after-school childcare programs at all Yellowknife schools for kids between junior kindergarten and age 11. 



Registration for the 2021-2022 school year opened to caregivers of children already enrolled in a YWCA program on April 12 and to the public on May 3, according to the program’s website.

Adams said her family moved to Yellowknife in March and submitted an application to the YWCA when registration opened to the public in May. 

As of Wednesday morning, Adams said her family had not heard back about the status of their application. 

During a phone call, Adams said she asked the YWCA, “’Am I going to hear back before the beginning of the school year? I have to have things in place for my kids.’ And they said that was their hope, that they would let everybody know before the beginning of the school year.” 

For Adams, that timing is cutting it too close. “I really need to know, as soon as I can, who’s going to be watching my kids.”

Reigh Foster was also waiting for an answer. 

Foster’s family was told in July that since their child was a new student, “there was probably zero chance that we were going to be getting in the program at NJ [Macpherson School] because it’s their biggest program, and they don’t have enough staff for it.”

Foster said that information left the family with few options besides changing work schedules or moving schools. 



“Now we’ve just been one of the hundreds of people on Facebook trying to find after-school care.” 

Posts from other parents on the Yellowknife Childcare Needs Facebook page echo the concerns of Adams and Foster. 

The YWCA said this has been “a challenging year for the after-school program.”

The Department of Education, Culture, and Employment sets limits on the number of children allowed in a space and “what the maximum group size can be,” according to the YWCA.

“The limitation on after-school spaces is frustrating for the YWCA, too, but there’s only so much space and staff available,” said Ward.

Ward said YWCA after-school programs received hundreds of registration emails and ongoing status requests from parents.

“Some parents continue to email up to 10 times a day asking about the status of their application, which further takes up staff time getting back to parents,” said Ward.

“We have instances of parents emailing 17 times in one day and, unfortunately, program staff and management have been verbally harassed by parents when informed there is no more program space.

“We could all use a bit more kindness and patience going into this new school year.”