Students, parents, children, instructors, politicians, staff and the public joined together Wednesday afternoon to welcome a new campus-based child care centre at Selkirk College in Nelson.
Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development made the announcement of the new child care centre that will provide 24 much-needed spaces for children, allowing parents attending the college to focus on their school work.
The college is receiving almost $1.2 million through the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund and $300,000 through the Columbia Basin Trust to build the Silver King Childcare Centre. The centre will have 16 spaces for infants and toddlers and eight spaces for children up to the age of 12.
"For the first time, parents at Selkirk College Silver King Campus in Nelson will have quality, licensed childcare available on campus," said Conroy told the large crowd attending.
"As a former early childhood educator and instructor at Selkirk College, I know how needed these spaces are and the difference they will make in the lives of children, students and staff."
Conroy said the centre will be run in partnership with Kootenay Kids Society, a non-profit that delivers community social services in the West Kootenay and Boundary regions. The centre will offer quality child care to young children in a safe and engaging setting. All children, including those with extra support needs, will be able to actively participate in this child-centred environment.
"Access to post-secondary programs for learners of all backgrounds is the foundation of Selkirk College," said Angus Graeme, president, Selkirk College. "Parents with young kids are an important part of the mix on all our campuses, and this new centre in Nelson will help us provide students with children the ability to get the education and training required for a stronger future.
“Having child care on campus available to our students will help change lives for both the parents and their little ones."
Families at the centre will have access to all the services provided by Kootenay Kids Society. This includes a wide range of social and educational programming for expectant and new parents, access to the toy lending library and resources, Indigenous programming, family cultural events, early intervention support services and in-home visits to provide additional care to new parents.
Including these new spaces, a total of 70 new licensed child care spaces in Nelson have been funded by the Province through Childcare BC's space creation initiatives. They are part of the fastest creation of childcare spaces in B.C.'s history, with more than 10,400 being funded in the past 15 months.
"These 24 new licensed child care spaces are truly an investment in the community at Selkirk College in Nelson,” said Michelle Mungall, MLA for Nelson-Creston. “The centre will provide a safe space for children to learn and grow, and parents will be able to drop off their children and study all in one place."
With the addition of 900 spaces that have been funded through partnerships with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and Aboriginal Head Start using federal funding, and 4,100 spaces created through the 2017 Budget Update, more than 15,400 spaces have been funded in B.C. This brings the total spaces funded in the Nelson area in the past two years to more than 85.
Since launching in February 2018, the Childcare BC plan has helped parents in Nelson save more than $1 million through its affordability initiatives, such as the Affordable Child Care Benefit and Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative.
"The addition of a child care program at the Silver King Campus will be an incredible asset. The program will serve the needs of students and staff, while adding much-needed child care spaces into the community of Nelson,” said Johnny Strilaeff, president and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust.
“This initiative will also be an asset to students completing their early childhood care and education program training at Selkirk College. With increased enrolments in the program to meet the commitments of the B.C. government, we will rely on strong partnerships for the practicum opportunities that are vital to our students."
Investing in child care and early childhood education is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
- The Selkirk College Children's Centre in Castlegar was selected as part of the Childcare BC Universal Prototype Sites Program, offering 22 spaces for infants and toddlers and 25 spaces for children ages three to five years, at a maximum of $200 a month per child.
- The Province has made significant investments to improve supports to B.C.'s early care and learning professionals.
- To date, the Province has invested more than $13 million to provide more than 10,000 early childhood educators with a $1-per-hour wage enhancement, with another $1-per-hour lift to come in April 2020. This includes nearly $33,000 for early childhood educators in Nelson.
With files from the BC Government