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Child care spaces coming to qathet School District

YMCA BC collaborating with qSD to accommodate 56 children

qathet School District (qSD) will be facilitating 56 new child care spaces at two schools this fall, with YMCA BC having been selected as the operator.

Raun Rainbow, qathet School District principal of early learning and child care, said the district was awarded some funding from the ChildCare BC New Spaces Fund to open up new daycares. This allowed qSD to retrofit a building beside Kelly Creek Community School and install a new modular building beside Edgehill Elementary School.

“So, we have these two new buildings the government has funded to open new child care spaces in the community,” said Rainbow. “From there, we entered into looking for child-care operators for that space.”

Rainbow said qSD undertook a lengthy and detailed process for an operator for the centres.

“We had some really strong candidates come to the table and were excited by the proposals people brought to us,” said Rainbow. “We decided to go with YMCA because they have a history of working with school districts.

“They are a well-known international organization and have lots of supports built into their systems that we wouldn’t be able to provide. We are also excited by the fact that the YMCA, often when they are in a location and have space, can look at different ways to support the community.”

Rainbow said the two buildings are receiving final touches to get ready for operation and YMCA is hoping to start programs in early fall.

“We are hoping they can start close to the beginning of the school year,” said Rainbow. “That lines up with families who may have children in schools and toddlers and infants who need care.

“Having these child-care facilities in place is advantageous. With these centres being located on school sites, there is going to have to be lots of communication going back and forth, building those relationships so those children who are in daycare can transition seamlessly into kindergarten. Those children will feel part of the school community long before they have to be in the classroom.”

Rainbow said it is a win-win for the community and school district. Now that the province has expanded the Ministry of Education and Child Care, the function ranges from birth to graduation, he added.

Rainbow said the two new facilities will function autonomously. He added that qSD already has Roots and Wings at Brooks Secondary School, which is run by a third-party operator, so the new operations will be using the same model.

“We take care of the building envelope and the cleaning, and they run the systems from the inside,” said Rainbow. “There will be hands-off separation from them.

“This is one of those times where we want to sing from the rooftops about how excited we are to open these spaces. I know the community has been waiting for this for a long time. The YMCA has shared its enthusiasm and we’re thrilled to work with them.”

Cathy Poole, vice-president of children and youth services for YMCA BC, said her organization currently runs three child care programs in Gibsons and Sechelt. She added that YMCA has programs across BC.

“We are the province’s largest operator of licensed child care,” said Poole.

She said each program in the school district will be licensed for 28 children, so there will be 12 spots designated for children 18- to 36-months-old and 16 spaces for ages three to five. The program will be structured on the YMCA’s Playing to Learn national curriculum.

“It is research-based and focused on best practices in the field of early childhood education,” said Poole. “It provides an understanding of how play provides the foundation for learning and aligns with the ministry’s early learning framework. We will be implementing our curriculum and training or staff to build on early learning and get the children ready for kindergarten.”

In terms of wait lists for parents wanting to enrol their children, Poole said once qSD puts out its announcement regarding the program, YMCA will post links online, as well as links to job postings.

Poole said YMCA staff are well trained. A dedicated administrative team also can assist families in applying for the affordable child care benefit and opt into the fee reduction initiative program, she added.

“We’re really excited,” said Poole. “The school district has been fabulous to work with.”

She said the new facilities look well-suited for YMCA’s needs and that the organization is excited it will be able to take children outside to spend time in nature.

YMCA plans to operate the program between 8 am and 5 pm.

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