Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care, announces the province is committing almost $3 million to provide the Cowichan Valley with 161 new licensed child care spaces while on a visit to the Valley on May 31, while Candace Spilsbury, chairwoman of the board for the Cowichan Valley school district, and Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, look on. (Photo by Robert Barron/Cowichan Valley Citizen)

Province announces $3 million for new child-care spaces in the Valley

Three new centres will provide 161 additional spaces

More than 160 new licensed child care spaces will soon be available in the Cowichan Valley after the province committed almost $3 million to the initiative on May 31.

Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care, announced during a visit to the Cowichan Valley Open Learning Co-operative school that the facility, as well as Chemainus and Khowhemun elementary schools, will see child care centres operated by local non-profit organizations constructed with the funding from the province’s Childcare BC New Spaces Fund.

The centres are slated for completion in early 2020.

Chen said the 161 new child-care spaces means parents will have more options to return to the workforce or pursue training to further their education.

“An investment in child care is an investment in our future, and we’re thrilled to see the Cowichan Valley school district joining us in supporting families they serve,” said Chen.

“By locating these new centres on school grounds, parents have access to multiple services in one convenient location, while future generations of learners can better prepare for the transition from daycare to school and thrive from an early age.”

The three new centres will offer a number of wraparound services for families, including providing snacks for children at no extra cost as well as supports for young parents.

In addition, the school district will work with Sun Drops Supported Child Care Centre to make programming more accessible and create individual care plans for children with extra supports needs.

Sun Drops will also work in partnership with the Cowichan Intercultural Society to offer supports to families who are new to Canada, such as language classes, help with finding a job, a school or a home and assistance with applying for government programs.

Candace Spilsbury, chair of the board for the Cowichan Valley school district, said the board is “extremely pleased” with the funding announcement.

”Early childhood education is so important for school readiness and life success, and we are excited to be part of working with the ministry to provide parents and families child care spaces at our schools,” she said.

The Childcare BC New Spaces Fund is part of the province’s Childcare BC plan and is intended to give B.C. families access to affordable, quality child care when they want or need it.

Since July, 2018, the province has funded more than 4,900 new licensed child care spaces throughout B.C.

“More new spaces will be announced as projects are approved,” a press release said.

Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, said that last year, the province announced that families with children at Parkside Academy-Somenos would benefit from low-cost, high-quality child care through the government’s prototype site program.

“I’m pleased that today’s announcement builds on the work we’ve already done to deliver affordable, accessible care to everyone in the community,’ he said.

“Our comprehensive Childcare BC plan is delivering for parents across the province.”

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