Improvements, new equipment and more spaces coming to over 80 facilities in Basin communities
Families in the Columbia Basin will soon have more child care options, and children will have better and safer places where they can play, build new skills, grow their imaginations and run about as they develop their bodies and minds.
That’s because over 80 child care facilities in about two dozen communities are adding to or improving their child care spaces. Projects across the Basin will create 74 new spaces and improve 1,652 existing spaces in the region, with over $481,000 in support from the Columbia Basin Trust’s Child Care Capital Grants.
“To work and provide for their families, people in the Basin have told us they need access to safe and affordable child care. Also, we’ve heard from child care providers that support for facility upgrades and specialized equipment strengthens their ability to provide the best possible care,” said Nicole MacLellan, Delivery of Benefits Manager with Columbia Basin Trust. “We commend Basin providers for the essential work they do caring for and supporting the development of our children, and we are pleased to help improve the safety and quality of their operations.”
Since 2017, the Trust has helped create 690 new spaces and improve 2,721 existing spaces. It also adds to the qualified child care workforce through its Training Fee Support program, which helps people train to become Early Childhood Educators. In partnership with the Kootenay Kids Society, the Trust helps providers address common business challenges through a Child Care Advisor.
Kootenay Street Clubhouse Upgrades
BGC Cranbrook is creating 24 new spaces by renovating a new facility and upgrading items like the flooring, lighting and bathrooms, plus adding a washer and dryer. In addition to housing these 24 new spaces, the existing Prime Time Afterschool Program will move into the renovated location and become known as the Kootenay Street Clubhouse.
“We are happy to be able to open up new spaces for afterschool care in Cranbrook,” said Lori McNeill, Executive Director of BGC Cranbrook. “Due to lengthy wait-lists and limited options for licensed care in our community, we are excited to expand and serve more children and families daily.”
New Additions for Little Badgers Early Learning Program
The Eva Joseph Learning and Cultural Society located at ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation is purchasing strollers, seating, shelving and a dishwasher for its 56-space Little Badgers Early Learning Program.
“Little Badgers’ focus is nature-based and we try to spend as much time as possible outside. As we recently added more spaces, we need more strollers that will enable our younger children to go for hikes and access our outdoor classroom,” said Carrie Rickards, General Manager of the Eva Joseph Learning and Cultural Society. “Plus, having new, easy-to-clean shelving and seating, and a new dishwasher will make it easier for us to stay sanitized.”
Renovations at the Exploration Station
Exploration Station in Castlegar, with eight child care spaces, is increasing the amount of natural light, fresh air and ventilation in its facility by replacing windows. It is also renovating the bathroom for accessibility and installing additional child-height sinks with easy-to-use faucets.
“While improving hygiene practices, the children will also become more independent. Also, the larger entrance means staff can supervise children in the bathroom and the playroom at the same time,” said Deidre Price, Owner of Exploration Station. “To undertake projects like this, without Trust funding, the centre would continue to adjust routines to provide ongoing supervision or families would pay increased fees.”
Learn more about how the Trust supports child care in the Basin at ourtrust.org/childcare.