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76 new child care spaces

The provincial government says 76 new child care spaces are being created in Fort St. John and the North Peace. In Fort St.
Child care
May is child care month, and celebrations are planned province-wide to honour the excellent work of child care providers.

The provincial government says 76 new child care spaces are being created in Fort St. John and the North Peace.

In Fort St. John, Little Dandelions Childcare is creating 37 spaces, the Doig River First Nation is creating 39 spaces at the Doig River Childcare Facility. 

"As a former early childhood educator, I know that quality child care makes a huge difference to families, allowing parents to go back to work or school and at the same time, greatly benefiting the local economy," said Children and Family Development Minister Katrine Conroy in a release.

"The new centres in Fort St. John and Rose Prairie will both offer inclusive, accessible child care, ensuring that children of all cultures and abilities can participate in activities and get on the path to lifelong learning."

Little Dandelions Childcare Centre, which opened in May 2020, will open 37 new spaces, including 12 infant/toddler spaces and 25 spaces for children aged three to five years. The centre offers inclusive care, visual aids, behavioural care plans and incorporates sign language in their programs to ensure all children can participate.

"I am so happy to be able to open my own child care centre and provide much-needed care for families in Fort St. John," said owner and operator Janice Gibos.

"We are very excited about creating a space where children can learn about different cultures while they grow and expand their minds in a safe space. My team of educators and I are so grateful to the ministry for this funding and the opportunities it presents to provide quality care for children and families."

The Doig River Childcare Facility will open 39 new spaces, including 15 school-age spaces and 24 multi-age spaces. Doig River recently completed the construction of a new, wheelchair-accessible community centre that will include the childcare facility, which is expected to open in fall 2020.

The curriculum will incorporate Dane-zaa language, culture and history and teachings about Mother Earth, traditional territory, living with the land, medicines and legends. Children will learn about their history from Elders and build resiliency through traditional stories, songs, crafts, practices and games in Beaver language.

"Doig River is excited to receive funds for our new child care facility that will house our Aboriginal Head Start Program and Youth After School Care programs," said Chief Trevor Makadahay.

"Early learning and educational supports are critical to the long-term success of our community's membership. We look forward to our Elders and youth spending time together to share language and culture in a positive and healthy space. Constructing playground equipment in our natural landscapes will allow children to connect with nature and their culture."

Funding for the new spaces comes from the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund. The province says 189 new licensed child care spaces have been funded in Fort St. John and Rose Prairie since July 2018.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.