Many families in the Columbia Basin rely upon child care. To help meet this need for quality spaces, 67 child care providers in 24 communities will be creating up to 198 new spaces, and improving 1,256 spaces, including ones in Nelson, Kaslo, Slocan, Winlaw, and Salmo.
These projects are being undertaken with nearly $1.4 million from Columbia Basin Trust’s child care capital grants.
“People in the Basin have expressed how critical the child care situation can be. Since 2017, we’ve helped 150 providers create 436 new spaces and purchase equipment or upgrade facilities to improve 2,977 existing spaces,” said Johnny Strilaeff, president and chief executive officer of the Columbia Basin Trust.
“These numbers are even higher than we’d anticipated, possibly because we worked alongside the providers to help create the best applications possible that also attracted funding from the Province. Through their projects, these providers have really stepped up to tackle families’ child care needs in the Basin.”
In addition to the grants, the Trust also provided support to help train 116 early childhood educators. Plus, it partnered with Kootenay Kids Society to provide an advisor who helped 91 providers find solutions to common business challenges, especially on the subject of applying for grants. Trust staff also helped develop project ideas and referred consultants when needed.
“As a former early childhood educator, I know what a difference quality child care makes to kids and families in the Basin, but too many parents have been struggling to find a space that works for them,” said Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West and the Minister of Children and Family Development.
“Columbia Basin Trust should be commended for their continued support for local child care providers. By working together to bring child care closer to home, we are giving parents the option to return to work or school, knowing that their kids have a safe, nurturing environment to take their first steps on a path to lifelong learning.”
One provider that is benefiting from the recent intake of child care capital grants is the Salmo Children’s Centre, which will receive $19,401. It will enhance the quality of its 48 spaces by improving its outdoor area.
This includes removing old wood structures, adding concrete retaining walls, building a playhouse, creating a biking and walking path and adding a car play feature. These improvements will boost safety, add opportunities for improving balancing and gross motor skills, and increase options for social and individual play in the yard.
“Our yard has undergone several changes in its 22 years of existence, but these big improvements will be of a quality to carry us through the next 22 years!” said Cathy Patton, executive director of the Salmo Child Care Society.
“No more rotting wood around the gardens; no more mud where there should be grass. The yard will be so much more useable! We feel so fortunate to have access to Columbia Basin Trust to enhance the lives of the children in our area. I can’t imagine where else we would find the funds for a project of this type and size.”
Other recipients include:
• Kootenay Lake Independent School Society, Kaslo ($28,189 to create an addition to the centre)
• Children’s World Day Care Learning Centre, Nelson ($5,000 to address maintenance and safety issues)
• First Baptist Church, Nelson ($22,000 to improve the outdoor activity area)
• Kootenay Kids Society, Nelson ($33,538 to upgrade the inside and outside play areas)
• W.E. Graham Community Service Society, Slocan ($13,150 to build a bike path and greenhouse).
• Earth House Country Playschool, Winlaw ($3,340 to improve the outdoor activity area).