Families in Vernon and Coldstream will soon have access to 266 new licensed child care spaces as part of the Province’s ongoing commitment to increasing child care through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
“Access to affordable, quality child care is the safety net parents need to build a better life for their families and contribute fully to the local economy,” said Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee. “These new child care spaces are an investment in our future and will give children a safe, nurturing place to learn and grow, for generations to come.”
The Childcare BC New Spaces Fund is supporting the City of Vernon to create 182 new licensed child care spaces at two facilities.
The City of Vernon is constructing a new two-storey child care facility on the site of the current Okanagan Boys and Girls Club building. This will create 96 spaces for children aged three years to kindergarten and is expected to open in September 2022. In addition, the city received funding through the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Community Child Care Space Creation Program for 24 infant/toddler spaces, bringing the total number of new spaces at the facility to 120.
“Thanks to the resources provided by Child Care BC New Spaces Fund and UBCM Child Care Space Creation Program, we are able to take major steps outlined in the Greater Vernon Child Care Space Action Plan, to increase space availability for children aged zero to 12,” said Victor Cumming, mayor of Vernon. “The new child care spaces will provide parents with much-needed support to participate in the workforce, advance their careers, operate businesses, provide professional services or attend school or training. It’s exciting that by providing and improving child care options, we can have an enhanced positive impact on our community.”
The Okanagan Boys and Girls Club will also deliver child care services at the City of Vernon’s new Lakers Child Care Centre. The centre is expected to open in fall 2022 and will offer a total of 86 new spaces, including 36 infant/toddler spaces and 50 spaces for children aged three years to kindergarten. The facility will work closely with the Local Immigration Partnership Council to support the child care needs of newly landed immigrants and refugees.
“We have a long history in Vernon of offering programs to children of all ages out of our Vernon club, and we couldn’t be happier about the chance to expand and upgrade our current facility in order to increase spaces at our club,” said Jeremy Welder, director of operations, Boys and Girls Clubs. “These funds from the Province will create essential child care spaces that are needed throughout the community. We have been so fortunate to have had such strong ongoing partnerships with both the City of Vernon and with the Ministry of Children and Family Development and are excited to continue this work at both of these locations.”
The District of Coldstream is adding a total of 84 new spaces – including 24 infant/toddler spaces, 25 spaces for children aged three years to kindergarten, 10 preschool spaces and 25 spaces for school-aged children – to the Maven Lane Early Childhood Learning Centre across the road from Coldstream Elementary school. These spaces are expected to open by December 2022 and are in addition to the 32 spaces announced in July 2020.
“The child care spaces in the new Coldstream facility will provide much-needed support to families in our community as they return to work and school,” said Jim Garlick, mayor of Coldstream. “The new Coldstream facility is centrally located, with an elementary school across the street, and will be an important part of the revitalization of our Town Centre area. Thanks to the Child Care BC News Spaces Fund, we will provide much-needed child care support for our community as we close the gap between availability and need.”
The Childcare BC New Spaces Fund has provided funding, on average, for more than 700 new spaces each month. To date, the Province has funded more than 20,000 new spaces throughout the province, helping parents return to work, go back to school or pursue other opportunities to help support their families.
“By working in partnership with local municipalities, Indigenous governments, non-profits, school districts and other partners, we are creating child care spaces that meet the unique needs of communities across our province,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “Together, we are getting closer to our goal of giving B.C. families the quality, affordable child care they need and deserve.”
These new spaces are part of the fastest creation of child care spaces in B.C.’s history. An additional 4,110 spaces, funded through the 2017 Budget Update and the Early Learning and Child Care agreement with the Government of Canada, takes the total to more than 24,500 spaces since July 2017.
- This investment means 205 new licensed child care spaces have been funded in Vernon and 153 in Coldstream since July 2018.
- 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.
- The Community Child Care Space Creation Program is administered by UBCM and provides up to $1 million to local governments and to create new licensed child care spaces in their communities.
- The program is focused on creating infant and toddler spaces and supporting underserved populations.
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 Vernon and Coldstream, visit the North Okanagan Boys and Girls Club: https://www.boysandgirlsclubs.ca/club-location/north-okanagan/vernon/
A backgrounder follows.