Local support is in place, now it’s up to the province as to whether or not it will fund an Early Years Centre in Sicamous through which licensed child care would be provided.
District of Sicamous council has joined School District #83 in supporting an application by the Eagle Valley Community Support Society for funding from the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
If successful, the funding – approximately $52,000 annually for up to five years – would go towards the establishment of an Early Years Centre at Parkview Elementary. The centre, explained the Society’s Janet McLean Senft, would serve as a hub for services and supports benefitting families and children.
“In our vision, we would locate family supports, early years programs such as Strong Start, Parents and Tots kinds of programs… and then licensed child care, preschool, food security and nutrition all in one hub,” said McLean Senft. “Health services therapies, recreation would all be able to offer services…
“I know there’s no one in this room that has not heard and agreed that a lack of licensed childcare is one of the reasons families find it difficult to live here. We know that as a business venture, childcare is not an easy way to make a living in a seasonal economy. The best bet we have to provide safe, reliable, year-round childcare, is for it to be provided by a non-profit…”
The ministry’s website states there are currently 26 Early Years Centres in the province, offering “one-stop” access to information, services and referrals for families and young children ages 0 to 6. Key to the success of these centres is access to early years programs, the quality of these programs and services and affordability.
The support society’s Gwyneth Gau emphasized the importance of the licensed childcare component.
“I’ve talked to lots of moms here and ones that have left our community – childminding was a big thing, especially licensed child minding…,” Gau told the News. “I think what it will mean is when people are looking at our community, it will be a big asset to say yes, we have licensed childcare here.”
Parents would be charged a fee for childcare, with a goal that it would eventually become self-sustaining. Gau says the province is expected to announce the successful applicants in January.