School District 47 (SD47) is providing before and after school activities for students to assist in their care.
Director of instruction Kristen Brach said Henderson Elementary School hosted an after school program for a number of years, but it was getting to the point where the student involvement was quite large, so the school district decided to offer a supervision program at each of the schools, except at Texada Elementary School, where student enrolment is small.
She said Kelly Creek Community School’s program is not run by the school district per se, because there is a community school organization there that runs it, but it is subsidized by SD47. The district program is subsidized by the provincial ministry of education’s community links funding.
“It was really important to keep costs to families minimal, so we started piloting it before school until school starts, and after school until 5 pm,” said Brach. “Because the morning is shorter, the before school portion is $2.50, and the after school portion is $7.50.
“Really, it’s about providing quality child care before and after school, in a safe, supervised environment. We are also trying to provide some learning opportunities for students as well.”
Brach said the school district is not trying to replace existing child-care businesses. There are quality child-care centres in the community, but not enough currently, particularly for before and after school care, she added.
“The nice thing about our program is we can use our existing staff for those programs,” said Brach. “What we have done is make use of our educational assistants.
“The bonus of having the programs in students’ schools rather than all in one space is the family piece that is already there. It’s the school community and it makes it such a smooth transition. They don’t have to leave their schools. It’s right on school grounds so that’s a really positive piece to this program.”
To participate in the program, parents register before the end of the month for the following month. The program doesn’t run on a drop-in basis.
“Just because of staffing and numbers, we have to know who we’ve got coming,” said Brach. “For this year, we asked for registrations before the end of the school year for this year’s program and it’s almost doubled from the last school year. I’ve had at least one or two people a day in the last week asking me: how do I get on this list?
“We’re in the process right now of getting a program to help organize all of the registrations, payments and schedules. Soon, we’ll have a link on the school district website for people who are still interested so they can just click and get more information and fill out the forms.”
Brach said right now, the schools are still able to take students who need the before and after school care. She said something that was important to the school board and school district was that they didn’t want cost to be a barrier, and if someone needs assistance with the cost, they can reach out to the school principal or Brach, and it is either subsidized through SD47 or help can be provided for families to access funding through the ministry of education for affordable child care.
“Cost shouldn’t be a barrier for anyone to attend this program,” added Brach.
All the programs are licensed and there are guidelines that they follow.
“It’s really exciting,” said Brach. “When I was a working mom it was very challenging. I had a family that could help out, but lots of people don’t have that. It’s really essential for our community.”