In March 2017, Rika Lange retired from the VCHA Licensing Program after 37 years of continuous service. Before she left, Rika graciously agreed to be interviewed for this blog post.
When Rika first began work as a Child Care Licensing Officer in December 1979, she was one of only two LO’s for all of Vancouver. She was responsible for all the child care facilities west of Cambie Street, and her Public Health Nurse colleague Elaine was assigned everything east of Cambie Street. In those early years, there was little formal training and much was learned through on the job training. Inspection notes were hand-written and later transcribed by Health Unit clerical staff into the running record of the facility file. If concerns were identified, a follow-up letter was sent to the Licensee.
Some of Rika’s memorable moments included: accidently knocking on the wrong door in an apartment complex and re-discovering an elusive, frequently illegal operator with too many children in her care; and, another time being threatened by the husband of an illegal operator and returning with police assistance. She recalled various opportunities of working with Guy McDannold (Staples, McDannold, & Stewart) and highlighted how he consistently modelled genuine respect and compassion for Licensing staff and Licensees.
Rika indicated she was particularly proud of her achievements with VCHA colleagues in two areas. First, in promoting the development of safe, challenging outdoor play spaces and conducting related presentations to BCACCS, ECEBC, and CCFLOBC conferences. Second, with her involvement in the 2011/12 Pilot Project on CCLR Schedule G where home-based and centre-based pilot sites were encouraged to demonstrate how they were meeting the intent of Schedule G, and how these participating Licensees became more confident and enthusiastic about delivering enriched programming to children.
When asked about her retirement plans, Rika explained how she considers it her opportunity for ‘rewirement’ – as a time for doing more of what she loves: more yoga, more teaching, more volunteering, more travel, and more gardening.
In her closing comments, Rika offered her insights on the importance of Licensing and how the partnerships that are created with Licensees and community stakeholders collectively contribute to creating safe, healthy environments for all vulnerable persons in care.
CCFLOBC congratulates Rika on her dedication to a public service career spanning nearly four decades, and wishes her all the best in her ‘rewirement’ phase.