Pam Moore, the Qualicum First Nation child-care program manager, with Ashton Gibson, 4, who is in the QFN’s daycare program. To the right is the exsiting daycare centre and to the right, in the forested area, is where the new after-school centre will be built. — Lauren Collins photo

Qualicum First Nation child-care centre gets funding boost

Groundbreaking for new building planned for new year

With a half-million dollars of funding under its belt, the Qualicum First Nation will be expanding its child-care program.

The Qualicum First Nation After School Care Centre in Qualicum Beach received $500,000 in funding from the provincial government as part of a $33-million investment through the province’s Child Care Major Capital Funding program.

Speaking in Vancouver on Monday, Children and Family Development Minister Katrine Conroy said the new child-care spaces would be split among 52 communities and cost the province $33 million.

RELATED: B.C. to create 3,800 child-care spaces within two years

Pam Moore, QFN child-care program manager, said the QFN’s plan is to build a new centre to house the after-school care program, which would be licensed for 24 children and would serve the Bowser Elementary School catchment area.

“It will have a before-school program and an after-school program. In addition, we’re looking at having preschool in there in the morning, which is currently in our daycare centre,” said Moore, adding this will free up more spaces in the daycare centre.

Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser made the announcement for the QFN child care centre in a written release Monday (Dec. 4). The QFN is one of three child-care centres in Fraser’s riding. In total, the three centres will be getting 89 new licensed spaces for a total of $1.1 million.

“The first step toward improving access to child-care spaces and keeping our promise to implement universal child care in B.C. is to accelerate the creation of quality, licensed spaces throughout the province,” said Fraser. “These 89 new spaces will help a lot of families in Mid Island-Pacific Rim.”

The money 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 purchase furnishings to support new child-care spaces in an existing facility.

The provincial government 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.

Moore said the new centre will be built to the left of the existing daycare centre. The plan, she said, is to break ground in late January, 2018.

“We will be open by September. I’d like to project a June finish for this centre, but we will have those two months over the summer for unforeseen variables in the construction process,” Moore said.

In the last three years, Moore said, the QFN has been expanding its child-care program.

“We started with the daycare centre, then we have expanded to providing cultural programs to childcare centres and kindergartens in the community,” Moore said. “We’ve expanded with an outreach worker that works with families. We have an Aboriginal speech and language therapy program for the children as well.

“We were seeing a need in the community for licensed after-school care because there is none (in the area), and we thought that’s another area where we can now move forward to expand our programs.”

However, Moore said, she’s just very happy to get the funding.

“I see this as just another stepping stone in our programs down the road,” she said. “I was asked this morning what we’re looking at in the future, and we’ll probably still be expanding. Maybe we’ll go into infant/toddler care, maybe we’ll see where the need comes. We’re always looking to serve the community and serve the members of the Qualicum First Nation.”

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