4120 Elmview Drive, Hanmer  969-8685


Special Report by Robert Kirwan

From the moment I stepped through the front entrance of Shooting Star Day Care Centre on Elmview Drive in Hanmer, I could sense that I was part of something special. In my role as a professional teacher for 28 years I have had the occasion to visit many different educational institutions in my life, but there was something different about this place.

I met with three very knowledgeable and passionate people, shown in the photo above. From the left, after myself, Robert Kirwan, we have Linette Filippini, President of the Board of Directors; Michelle Wiebes, Supervisor of Program Development and Implementation; and Chantal Boucher, Executive Director in charge of the overall Day Care Centre.

Michelle, who was a former student of mine at St. Anne School, has been involved with Day Care for 22 years, the last 15 of which have been in a supervisory capacity. Chantal is a 1996 graduate of the Early Childhood Educator program from Collage Boreal and Cambrian College. Linette, as a parent, has a firm perspective on the needs of young families.

I learned a lot about SHOOTING STAR DAY CARE/GARDERIE ETOILE FILANTE during our meeting and subsequent tour. Let me share some of it with you:



Toddler Facilities

Pre-School Facilities

School Age Facilities

After School Program

Kitchen Facilities

Michelle Wiebes is someone who thoroughly enjoys what she is doing. She has been a Program Supervisor for 15 years and absolutely loves working with young children.

"We are proud of our reputation of providing quality programs that challenge and stimulate all of our children," she explained. "The instructors are all ECE graduates and have a passion for what they do."

One of Michelle's biggest challenges is the same as that of pretty much all licensed Day Care Centres in the area, if not the province. That is the problem of staff turn-over. 

"The cost of Day Care is pretty expensive for many young families, especially for single parents," Michelle stated. "So we have to keep our daily fees as low as possible. However, those low fees do not allow us to pay our staff as much as we would like. Therefore, many people who graduate with an ECE diploma tend to look for other opportunities such as with school boards, or in a related field where they can earn a higher salary. Many of them actually turn to teaching as a profession."

As well as a high turn-over with staff, Michelle must also cope with a revolving door with respect to enrolment. "We try to accommodate everyone's schedules at Shooting Star. That means that parents are dropping children off at all hours of the day and also picking them up at different times. Whatever they need, we will provide, but it is a real challenge at times to schedule staff and stay within the Ministry requirements with respect to maximum group sizes."

Despite these challenges, everyone at Shooting Star Day Care Centre seemed to be extremely happy and involved with the children. I could definitely see stimulating learning experiences taking place.

Executive Director, Chantal Boucher, has her own administrative challenges, many dealing with finances and funding. She is often on the phone with parents, administrators or government officials.

"We are always trying to find new ways of increasing our grants and funding, but it is getting harder to make ends meet," explained Chantal. "We do a lot of our own fund-raising to generate more money that can be put into our programs and to buy equipment, but there is only so much money to go around in a community and there are a lot of other groups out there looking for support."

Chantal is exploring potential partnerships with one or more of the school boards as well as some other creative initiatives. The space at SHOOTING STAR DAY CARE / GARDERIE ETOILE FILANTE is fully utilized. New families often must put their children on a waiting list in order to get in, especially for the younger programs.

"We used to offer the infant program for children under the age of 18 months, but with a required ratio of 1 instructor for every three children, the cost was just too high for most parents and we had to discontinue the program.

As such, most parents with infants must rely on grandparents or private home-based operators to take care of their children. For many, the option of staying home to take care of their own child is simply not available.

As I went on the tour and spoke to Michelle, Chantal and Linette about SHOOTING STAR DAY CARE / GARDERIE ETOILE FILANTE, I gained a great deal of respect for what these people are trying to do, not only for the parents of the children enrolled at the centre, but also for the entire community of Valley East.

It has become perfectly clear that we do not have sufficient licensed day care facilities in Valley East. It is also clear that we do not have sufficient funding, even for the spaces that we do have. This may not be a problem that is unique to this community, but it is something that will have a profound impact on the future growth and development of the Valley East area. 

Valley East is recognized as one of the most attractive communities in which to raise a family. As such, we are being considered by many young parents as the place they would like to locate and begin a family. 

However, one of the first questions these young couples must have answered deals with day care. 

Is there sufficient, quality day care available for their children? Furthermore, since the employment situation is very competitive in this region, many young mothers are forced to return to their jobs as soon as possible or they will be replaced. This means that they must find a place to care for their infants. And this is the one area where licensed facilities such as Shooting Star Day Care are having trouble.

The City of Greater Sudbury is going to have to address this problem before we move forward with an aggressive marketing plan designed to attract new residents to the GSA. Since many of these new residents will give consideration to Valley East as a place to buy a house and begin a family, the lack of sufficient day care space will be a problem. And if the fastest growing community in the Greater Sudbury Area is having problems filling this need, what does it say for the rest of the region?

  • The Federal Government's plan to provide $1200 per year of taxable child care benefits is not the answer;
  • Forcing individual Licensed Day Care Centres to do fund-raising to purchase equipment and keep their facilities maintained, is not the answer;

The answer lies in the City of Greater Sudbury providing special grant money to the Licensed Day Care Centres so that facilities and equipment can be maintained. 

The answer lies in the City of Greater Sudbury providing incentives for the creation of new licensed day care spaces in Valley East to accommodate the demand from young families.

The answer also lies in making sure that there are enough, affordable spaces for single parent families, or low-income families who must keep their part-time jobs in order to put food on the table. Many of them cannot afford to give up their jobs for fear of not being able to return at a later time.

Until we come up with suitable answers, Valley East, and indeed, the Greater Sudbury Area as a whole, will not be given serious consideration as a place to locate by young families. It won't matter much what the City does to market and promote the region to the outside if we do not have space to take care of children.

For now, I commend the people working with SHOOTING STAR DAY CARE / GARDERIE ETOILE FILANTE for what they have done to create a first-class licensed day care facility for Valley East. I only wish they had room for children so that we could continue to attract young families to this community.


Student Page Is A Free Public Education Service Provided To
The Schools of Valley East by
Robert Kirwan, B.A. (Math), M.A. (Education)
Independent Education & Career Planning Advisor
Member of the Ontario College of Teachers
His office is located at the Hanmer Valley Shopping Centre, Hanmer, Ontario
Office Phone: (705) 524-7006       Home Phone: (705) 969-7215