I’ve been working for several months now to get all the approvals in place to be able to push for early funding approval for my son’s shadow for the coming school year. I don’t know what the process is like in other countries, but last year it nearly left me in tears with everything left to absolutely the last possible minute (thanks to badly synchronized departmental holidays and a ridiculous policy of processing applications only in the final month and a half before the start of the school year). After weeks of several phone calls a day to various people I was “lucky” enough to finally learn who had been assigned to us two days before the start of school, and still had to train them, arrange a coordination meeting with her and the teachers, etc. Let’s just say it was not ideal and I let more than one or two curses slip over those weeks.
So imagine how victorious I feel to know now, months before the start of the new school year, that we have our approvals in place, and who his shadow will be (thankfully, the wonderful woman assigned to us last year will be carrying on with us). But not just that, we actually received approvals for a full 2 year period instead of just one, so I also know that I will not have to go through all of this next year. [Insert huge sigh of relief here]
This is only one part of the puzzle solved for me, as having a shadow actually creates a whole other set of issues. Where I live we have a split program with pre-school running through the morning until 2pm and then a daycare program continuing to 5pm. I have approval for a shadow for the first program, however because we have that we are essentially excluded from participating in the afternoon daycare program that all my son’s friends continue in. I say excluded, but what I mean is that it places new conditions for me – I have to provide a shadow for the hours of the program (at my own cost) and also have to bring food for my son since the company catering the meals cannot guarantee allergen-free food. Which sort of boils down to me paying for daycare for the use of the room and toys, but in addition my bringing my own staff and food.
You don’t need to be an accountant to understand that that is in no way worth it for me. I had heard rumours that the Ministry of Health was also issuing approvals for the afternoon program (which, if I had received that, would have qualified as a huge victory), but all of my inquiries into this seem to have turned into a dead end. So I am now working my way through the options available to figure out what will be best for my son for those hours, in terms of catering to his food allergies as well as providing him a safe, warm and challenging environment.
Last year this proved to be a serious obstacle, and I ended up having to leave work early to pick him up for several weeks before I found a decent solution (a lovely caregiver who agreed to prepare egg-free food, but a less challenging environment where he is one of the oldest children with few other children his age). I hope that I’m a bit more organized this year and that it will not come to that, but still am not 100% about any of the options available and don’t like to feel like I’m compromising on who will be taking care of my son for a significant part of his day.
Though, at the end of the day, I’ll always choose safety first.