The Columbia Basin Trust has announced it will help create 198 new child care spaces and improve 1,256 existing spaces in the Kootenay region.

Many families in the Columbia Basin rely upon child care. To help meet this need for quality spaces, 67 child care providers in 24 communities will be creating up to 198 new spaces and improving 1,256 spaces with the help of nearly $1.4 million in Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) Child Care Capital Grants.

Above: Since 2017, the Trust’s Child Care Capital Grants program has helped 150 providers create 436 new spaces and purchase equipment or upgrade facilities to improve 2,977 existing spaces. Top photo: The Salmo Children’s Centre will enhance the quality of its 48 spaces with support from a Child Care Capital Grant from the CBT.

“People in the Basin have expressed how critical the child care situation can be. Since 2017, we’ve helped 150 providers create 436 new spaces and purchase equipment or upgrade facilities to improve 2,977 existing spaces,” says Johnny Strilaeff, CBT President and CEO. “These numbers are even higher than we’d anticipated, possibly because we worked alongside the providers to help create the best applications possible that also attracted funding from the Province. Through their projects, these providers have really stepped up to tackle families’ child care needs in the Basin.”

In addition to the grants, the Trust also provided support to help train 116 early childhood educators. Plus, it partnered with Kootenay Kids Society to provide an advisor who helped 91 providers find solutions to common business challenges, especially on the subject of applying for grants. Trust staff also helped develop project ideas and referred consultants when needed.

Nakusp’s Hibberson Daycare will enhance the quality of its seven spaces with support from a Child Care Capital Grant from CBT.

“As a former ECE, I know what a difference quality child care makes to kids and families in the Basin, but too many parents have been struggling to find a space that works for them,” said Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West and the Minister of Children and Family Development. “Columbia Basin Trust should be commended for their continued support for local child care providers. By working together to bring child care closer to home, we are giving parents the option to return to work or school, knowing that their kids have a safe, nurturing environment to take their first steps on a path to lifelong learning.”

Charlotte Streicek owns Invermere’s Dragonfly Discovery Centre. It will accommodate up to 72 children per day with support from Columbia Basin Trust.

The Dragonfly Discovery Centre in Invermere is a good example of a provider who took advantage of the many avenues of support the Trust could offer. With significant input from Trust staff and consultants, it developed a project to accommodate up to 72 children per day by purchasing and renovating a building with a large yard.

“We have a wait list and receive calls regularly from parents asking for help finding infant/toddler spaces but can’t add a program for this age group in our existing location,” said owner Charlotte Streicek. “We have now found the perfect location in the hub of the Columbia Valley and will soon be able to help meet this critical need. The new daycare can also meet the essential need for elementary school-age children, with schools located within walking distance. I could not have come this far without the continued support from Columbia Basin Trust’s staff.”

One provider that is benefiting from the recent intake of Child Care Capital Grants is the Salmo Children’s Centre. It will enhance the quality of its 48 spaces by improving its outdoor area. This includes removing old wood structures, adding concrete retaining walls, building a playhouse, creating a biking and walking path and adding a car play feature. These improvements will boost safety, add opportunities for improving balancing and gross motor skills, and increase options for social and individual play in the yard.

“Our yard has undergone several changes in its 22 years of existence, but these big improvements will be of a quality to carry us through the next 22 years!” said Cathy Patton, Executive Director, Salmo Child Care Society. “No more rotting wood around the gardens; no more mud where there should be grass. The yard will be so much more useable! We feel so fortunate to have access to Columbia Basin Trust to enhance the lives of the children in our area. I can’t imagine where else we would find the funds for a project of this type and size.”

In Nakusp, the seven-space Hibberson Daycare will purchase various pieces of equipment, including a pavilion to shelter children as they play outside, cots, and tables and chairs for snack time and lunchtime.

“There is a huge need for child care spaces here in our village of Nakusp. I would like to make this child care centre as safe and as fun as possible for the children here, and appropriate equipment, a variety of resources and usable space will help to ensure a quality program for the children,” said owner Kristi Hibberson. “By providing a variety of different spaces, resources and activities, the children have access to a play-based environment that allows them the freedom to learn and explore and inspires their creativity—while being guided when necessary along the way.”