Submitted by Columbia Basin Trust
Children and families in the Columbia Basin will soon benefit from 100 new licensed child care spaces and new equipment and improvements in 41 facilities. This is thanks to more than $1 million from Columbia Basin Trust’s new Child Care Capital Grants program.
“These new spaces are an essential step forward in helping families around the Basin access child care,” said Johnny Strilaeff, CEO of Columbia Basin Trust. “We’re also helping child care providers add equipment and upgrade their facilities to provide safer and more engaging places that support early learning and healthy child development.”
This is the first intake of the program, which launched in fall 2017 and is offering $1 million per year for three years. Projects are eligible if they create new licensed child care spaces or upgrade quality and safety aspects of their facilities and equipment.
One of the recipients is the Mountain Ridge Early Learning Program. The program is currently operating out of the Windermere Hall, but it will be constructing its own facility in Invermere. This will help ensure sustainability of its current 28 preschool and afternoon care spaces, plus add 41 new spaces.
“Although numerous families have asked us to expand our offerings, we do not have the capacity in our leased space,” said Karyn Rohrick, owner. “A ground-up build means we can provide a complete child care program to better meet the needs of families in the Columbia Valley. My dream is that our children will have the option of attending Mountain Ridge from infant through to school age and build strong attachments to consistent caregivers.”
ʔaq’amnik Daycare located in the community ʔaq’am will implement its project called “A Starting Place to Dream,” which is based in the ʔaq’am strategic vision known as Ka kniⱡwi·tiyaⱡa – Our Thinking. The 16-seat daycare will renovate its kitchen and play areas to support expanding nutrition and ecological learning activities, add sliding walls to better support children with differing needs, and hire a Ktunaxa artist to design and decorate the entire space, surrounding the children with ʔaq’amnik values, principles, language and traditions.
“Keeping our licensed child care facility open has been a challenge over the last few years, and these improvements will assist us with continuing our long-standing history of providing quality child care spaces within the community,” said Michelle Shortridge, Director of Operations. “This project, which will be implemented over the next few months, involves both our department of Community Health and Wellness and our department of Operations, and highlights the community’s collaborative working approach to implementing its strategic vision.”
The Valemount Children’s Activity Society will be converting administrative space into child care space to accommodate eight more children—an essential move as it’s the only licensed child care provider in the area. The additional space will also enable it to offer new services like after-school programs.