Families in Fort St. John and Rose Prairie will soon have access to 76 new licensed child care spaces as part of the Province’s ongoing commitment to increase child care through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
“As a former early childhood educator, I know that quality child care makes a huge difference to families, allowing parents to go back to work or school and at the same time, greatly benefiting the local economy,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “The new centres in Fort St. John and Rose Prairie will both offer inclusive, accessible child care, ensuring that children of all cultures and abilities can participate in activities and get on the path to lifelong learning.”
Childcare BC’s New Spaces Fund is supporting Little Dandelions Childcare Centre in Fort St. John to create 37 new spaces, including 12 infant/toddler spaces and 25 spaces for children aged three to five years, and the Doig River First Nation in Rose Prairie to create 39 new licensed spaces, including 15 school-age spaces and 24 multi-age spaces.
Little Dandelions Childcare Centre, which opened in May 2020, offers inclusive care, visual aids, behavioural care plans and incorporates sign language in their programs to ensure all children can participate. The curriculum is child-led, following the BC Early Learning Framework. The daily programming incorporates principles from the Indigenous Early Learning and Childcare Framework and includes learning about the different cultures of children in the class.
“I am so happy to be able to open my own child care centre and provide much-needed care for families in Fort St. John,” said Janice Gibos, owner and operator, Little Dandelions Childcare Centre. “We are very excited about creating a space where children can learn about different cultures while they grow and expand their minds in a safe space. My team of educators and I are so grateful to the ministry for this funding and the opportunities it presents to provide quality care for children and families.”
The Doig River First Nation recently completed the construction of a new, wheelchair-accessible community centre that will include the Doig River Childcare Facility, which is expected to open in fall 2020. The curriculum will incorporate Dane-zaa language, culture and history and teachings about Mother Earth, traditional territory, living with the land, medicines and legends. Children will learn about their history from Elders and build resiliency through traditional stories, songs, crafts, practices and games in Beaver language.
“Doig River is excited to receive funds for our new child care facility that will house our Aboriginal Head Start Program and Youth After School Care programs,” said Chief Trevor Makadahay, Doig River First Nation. “Early learning and educational supports are critical to the long-term success of our community’s membership. We look forward to our Elders and youth spending time together to share language and culture in a positive and healthy space. Constructing playground equipment in our natural landscapes will allow children to connect with nature and their culture.”
July 2020 marks the second anniversary of the launch of the New Spaces Fund, which has approved an average of 700 new spaces for funding each month. So far, nearly 16,800 new spaces have been funded throughout the province, helping parents return to work, go back to school or pursue other opportunities.
“Providing quality, affordable and inclusive child care goes hand in hand with a strong, vibrant economy,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “By funding nearly 16,800 new licensed spaces throughout the province, our government is helping more parents return to work, go back to school or pursue other opportunities knowing that when they drop their kids off in the morning, they’ll get the nurturing support they need to grow and thrive.”
These new spaces are part of the fastest creation of child care spaces in B.C.’s history. An additional 4,100 spaces, funded through the 2017 Budget Update and the Early Learning and Child Care agreement with the Government of Canada, means that more than 20,900 new licensed spaces have been funded since July 2017.
Investing in child care and early childhood education is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
- This investment means 189 new licensed child care spaces have been funded in Fort St. John and Rose Prairie since July 2018.
- As the Province moves toward its “new normal” under COVID-19, child care capital builds may see unexpected delays.
- Once operational, child care providers will be required to follow guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health and BC Centre for Disease Control to keep staff and the families they serve safe and to limit the risk of transmission.
For information on health and safety standards for child care, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/ChildCareCovid-19Response
For more about Childcare BC, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare
For more information on child care in Fort St. John or Rose Prairie, visit: http://www.spcrs.ca/community-support-assisted-living/child-care-resources-and-referral/
To learn more about the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/newspacesfund
To find child care in your community, view the online child care map: http://maps.gov.bc.ca/ess/hm/ccf/
Child care factsheet: https://news.gov.bc.ca/18430
A backgrounder follows.