The provincial government will work with partners to expand childcare options in the city to the tune of more than 300 new spaces.
According to a press release from the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development, 131 spaces will be offered at a new centre called Inquiring Little Minds, 120 spaces at Core Education Fine Arts Early Learning Nanaimo, and 75 spaces will be created at a new childcare centre at Vancouver Island University.
The province says its Childcare B.C. new spaces fund is supporting the new spaces at Inquiring Little Minds, which it says will be inclusive, accessible, and offer “culturally safe programming” that will include indigenous voices and perspectives. The centre is expected to open in November, the province says.
The CEFA centre opened this past December and the ministry says its curriculum “educates children academically, socially, emotionally and physically.”
VIU’s new, accessible building, expected to be open in early 2023, will function as both a child care centre and also as a training hub where students in programs, including early childhood education, social work and nursing, will be offered a practicum, according to the province.
“Families in Nanaimo have been struggling for far too long to find quality care in their community,” said Katrina Chen, minister of state for child care, in the release. “These new licensed child care spaces will support parents returning to work, especially as we transition out of this difficult time. Families will have access to quality care, as well as extra resources and supports for their entire family.”
Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo MLA, said it’s been seen all over Canada that women enter the workforce in greater numbers when childcare is available and affordable. She said the 326 spaces mean strong foundations for children, with breaks on costs for families.
“We know how much this will take the pressure off and in a community like ours where a lot of people are working multiple jobs to get ahead, this is just something that’s going to create that buffer,” Malcolmson said. “It’s better for families and of course better for their kids.”
Patricia O’Hagan, dean of VIU’s faculty of health and human services, said the university’s child-care centre has a goal of extended hours to help provide options for parents who attend classes.
“The centre will offer parents who are learning and working at VIU a desperately needed service,” she said.