A $1.5-million child care centre will be built at Selkirk College’s Silver King campus in Nelson by spring 2021.
The centre will provide a total of 24 spaces for student parents. Sixteen spaces will be reserved for infants and toddlers, while eight more are for children up to the age of 12.
Katrine Conroy, the Minister of Child and Family Development and a former early childhood instructor at Selkirk, made the funding announcement Wednesday at the campus.
“It’s critically important for families,” said Conroy. “When parents are dropping their kids off here at campus they can go to school or work here knowing their kids are in a good quality child care program.”
The college will receive $1.2 million from the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund as well as $300,000 from Columbia Basin Trust for the project.
Selkirk College president Angus Graeme said he believes child care is a barrier for potential students, especially women who want to enter trades programs or academic upgrading provided at Silver King.
“Often times the students wanting to take trades are an older demographic and they have other commitments and complexities such as young children they have to work through in order to attend school,” said Graeme.
“It’s a pretty demanding curriculum. It’s Monday to Thursday, full on in the shop. It’s just a little harder for students to get that additional support for child care seats. Those are in high demand in the region and the city.”
Wednesday’s announcement is the latest in a series of provincial and regional funds aimed at providing more services for local families in need of support. More than 85 new spaces have been funded in the Nelson area in the past two years, according to the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
The idea for a child care centre at Selkirk originated a year ago when Kootenay Kids executive director Helen Lutz said she became aware of the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund.
“It was a tremendous opportunity that hasn’t come into child care for many, many years,” said Lutz.
Kootenay Kids, a local non-profit society that provides child care at three locations in Nelson, will manage the Silver King centre when it opens. Its services will include offerings for expectant and new parents, Indigenous programming, a toy lending library, early intervention support and in-home visits.
Lutz said it’s still too early to say what the cost to parents will be. Her hope is the site will be considered for inclusion in the province’s pilot program that provides full-time monthly care for $200 or less per child and is currently offered at The School House Early Care and Learning Centre in Nelson.
That pilot also includes Selkirk’s children’s centre at its Castlegar campus.
The announced child care centre will also add another modern building to the 55-year-old Silver King campus, which unveiled its new student building in August.
Lutz credited Selkirk for not just clearing out space in its existing buildings for the new facility.
“This is a recognition that children deserve a beautiful space, and people delivering child care for children need a beautiful space to be at their best when they are supporting children in their early learning,” she said.
“That to me is what this really speaks to: how we’re valuing children, how we’re valuing young families.”