The Central Coast School District (#49) will receive $415,698 to create 28 new spaces at the new Hagensborg Daycare Centre, the province announced last week.
Creating affordable, accessible child care has been a part of the new NDP government’s platform since the spring election, and local MLA Jennifer Rice says it’s an important first step.
“These new spaces will provide families with quality care in licensed facilities,” said Rice. “And this is just the first step. Our government is moving as quickly as possible to create a universal and affordable child care program throughout the province.”
Hagensborg was part of announcement that included the northern communities of Masset and Kitkatla, who also received funds for the licensed child-care spaces thanks to a $1.2 million investment through the province’s Child Care Major Capital Funding Program.
This investment will allow child-care providers to build a new child-care facility, including the cost of buying land or a building, purchase and assemble a modular building and develop a site, renovate an existing building and buy eligible equipment (including playground equipment) and furnishings as part of the above activities to support new child-care spaces in an existing facility.
The province says that it is now in the process of working with child-care providers to sign project agreements that include the specific requirements that providers have identified for each site, such as the need to lease or buy property, obtain local zoning permits and hire contractors to renovate the sites.
It has taken years of work and preparation to get to this point, and some very dedicated people to bring the proposed vision into reality.
“Several people have contributed to the process over the years,” said SD 49 Superintendent Steve Dishkin. “Coleen Fraser, Cassidy Cole and several other interested parents built on the ideas of past groups such as the one headed by Melinda Mullins a few years ago. Fraser presented the Board of Education several months ago with the proposal that the School District consider submitting a grant application, and Stage One application was submitted last spring was approved in August.”
The group also conducted a Community Daycare Needs Survey and was in contact with licensing officers, advisors with the Ministry of Children and Family Development and groups operating daycares in other communities.
“The original idea was for “Under 5” daycare but from the survey it became apparent that there was also a need for school age after-school care,” explained Dishkin. “Twelve of the spaces are for this type of a program for older children.”
The daycare facility will be located on SD 49 property in Hagensborg. A new modular building will replace the existing portables at the entrance of the school grounds.
“The daycare will replace the buildings located to the north of the tennis courts in front of SAMS which have been slated for demolition/removal in our capital plans,” said Dishkin. “The project timeline as presented in the proposal would have the opening date in August of 2018.”
Fraser said the lack of daycare spaces, especially in the upper Valley region, has been apparent in the Valley for a number of years.
“Location, funding, and availability of certified staff have been huge roadblocks in establishing something that would meet licensing requirements,” she said. “The province has had a funding program in place for several years but the application process was complicated and competition for grants was high. The program was re-vamped last year with new classification categories (such as school districts) and more assistance available from Ministry staff in reviewing the application. It also seems that rural areas may have been more of a focus.”
Fraser and Dishkin said they were fortunate to have had the support of the CCRD’s Community Grant Writer, Jesse MacDonald, in assisting with the final Stage Two application.
“The stars were “lined up” on our side particularly in the end when we realized that the CCRD grant writer was available to spend the time nailing down the final details,” said Fraser. “All the people who discussed ideas about daycare in the past actually are a part of this endeavour; we simply took their ideas forward another step.”
The centre is expected to open in August 2018.