Corner Stones Child Care Centre in Revelstoke is a busy hub for child care and child health activities. At one end of the hallway is an indoor play space for toddlers.
At the other end, an Interior Health speech pathologist. In between is a mix of early education resources—a literacy program, two kindergartens, a toy library and colourful rooms packed with pint-sized chairs—and, of course, dozens of eager, cheerful children from one to four years old.
The wait-list to get into the centre is long, especially for infant and toddler care. This isn’t surprising in a world of dual incomes, where child care has become a practical necessity for many families. To help Basin communities meet their child care needs, last fall the Trust announced new funding to support the sector.
Like all licensed child care facilities, Corner Stones maintains the provincial licensing requirement for a specific ratio of staff to kids. For example, there must be at least one infant and toddler educator for every four children under 36 months. So in order to operate at full capacity, the centre must continually train and recruit qualified Early Childhood Educators (ECEs).
To do so, Corner Stones received a grant from the Trust’s Early Childhood Educators Workforce Development Fund. Over $6,000 went to help four ECE assistants complete their practicums and become certified ECEs.
“Now we have just the right amount of staff for the right amount of space,” says Linda Chell, who handles the centre’s administration. “We’re so pleased at having the Trust invest in the early years. Our staff, our board and our parents know the importance of the Trust’s acknowledgment that the early years matter.”
Getting locals working
“The cost of living is so high—it’s best if you can train local residents,” says Chell. Finding and supporting locals to enter and stay in the child care profession is a major part of addressing the ECE shortage.
Sitting in the mini chairs—over loud playtime banging noises—Danielle Morgan, a 21-year-old ECE from Revelstoke, talks about her time so far in this career.
“I really like it. Ever since I was little, I liked children and being around children,” she says. And having the Trust cover the practicum costs “was amazing.”
Similarly, Taylor Klassen, who was born and raised in Revelstoke, has been a full-fledged ECE for just over a year. “I figured I love it here and I don’t want to leave, so I might as well get a job that can let me stay,” she says.
Strengthening child care centres means hiring more educators, but it also involves creating or improving actual spaces.
In Rossland, the Golden Bear Children’s Centre is licensed for four more child care spaces and has updated its centre after receiving a $26,720 Child Care Capital Grant from the Trust.
Golden Bear used the grant to knock out a wall and form an archway, expanding the usable area and maximizing space for the 12 children in its infant/toddler program.
New furniture replaced old, including chairs, tables and rugs—which, naturally, get worn out fast.
“I think it’s amazing. There’s such a dire need for more daycares within the province,” says Ketna Makwana, who operates Golden Bear.
Whether increasing training credentials for staff or adding or improving child care spaces, at the end of the day it all comes back to the kids. During playtime, snack time, nap time or any time in between, children benefit from having a high-quality and safe child care environment to start them on the right foot.
Places for children to grow
Basin residents have expressed that an adequate supply of quality child care is important to them. That’s why the Trust’s new Child Care Support Program is providing $3.6 million over three years to help train Early Childhood Educators, improve existing facilities and build new child care spaces. In 2018, this program has supported the creation of 238 new licensed child care spaces and improvements to 1,729 existing licensed child care spaces at
84 child care facilities.