A new child care centre planned for Queen’s Park Elementary is going to help the school, children and families.
“I just see it as a win-win for everybody,” said Wendy Hyer, superintendent for the Okanagan Skaha School District.
In June, the YMCA of the Okanagan was awarded $500,000 from the Province of B.C. Child Care Capital Funding Program toward the construction of a child care centre in Penticton. Planning is starting on a 59-space child care centre, which will be constructed next to Queen’s Park Elementary School. It will offer 12 infant spaces, 25 spaces for children aged three to five years, as well as a 10-space pre-school and a 12-space before/after school program. The YMCA hasn’t specified a completion date, but Scott Edwards, principal at Queen’s Park, is already looking forward to hosting the new addition.
“They (the YMCA) are a quality organization and they put a lot of research into what they do. They also have some really high standards,” said Edwards. “When you come in, you know that you are getting a real quality program.”
The daycare, he said, is badly needed in that section of town, but what the YMCA facility offers is more possibilities for the school, including hopefully developing connections with the schools existing StrongStart early learning facility.
Another possibility, Edwards said, is early discussions about working with the after school program to offer extra academic support to students.
Hyer said the concept goes back a couple of years, when the school board supported the YMCA application for funds to build a structure to house the program.
“It is a partnership. This community, in particular, is short of spots. I know there is a wait list to get into programs. From a school perspective, it is always beneficial when kids have access to quality care and they are safe. We support those types of programs when we can,” said Hyer, noting that there is a similar program running at Parkway Elementary.
The benefits from these programs spread through the community, according to Hyer. While attending an Early Years conference, Hyer said she spoke to people from other communities where a conscious decision was made to ensure their citizens had access to childcare, daycare and preschools.
“What they found was that young families were moving to their communities because they didn’t have to worry about where and what their kids would be doing if they had to work,” said Hyer, noting that is an issue for both single-parent families and two-parent families where both have to work.
“It is beneficial both for families and for kids to have access to those types of programs. It keeps them in their neighbourhood, it keeps them in their catchment area school, and it provides good quality care for parents that have to work.”