This will nearly double the child care capacity at Mountain Ridge Early Learning Program.
The BC Government announced a massive $33 investment into childcare this week, creating 3,806 spaces around the province.
Based in the Columbia Valley, the Mountain Ridge Early Learning Program is the only provider in the East Kootenay to receive funding.
"The investment means a lot, both to our school and to the families that we serve," says Manager Karyn Rohrick. "Wait lists in our area are very long and there are shortages of spaces, especially with infant, toddler, and after-school are."
$250,000 will help with the additions of eight spaces for infants and toddlers, eight for children aged three-to-five, 10 preschool spaces, and 15 school-age spots.
Rohrick says it was important to create more spaces across a variety of age groups.
"My dream is that we'll have a child care center where children can enter as an infant and stay through their formative years - that way, they're attaching to the same primary care givers for those formative years and they'll feel more secure. That's when good learning happens."
Currently, the group leases space out of the Windermere Hall and only has the capacity for 20 pre-school children and another eight afternoon spots.
She believes most childcare providers in the Columbia Valley have felt the pinch in recent years as more families continue to move to the area, yet, few new spaces are given the green light.
At least for the Mountain Ridge Early Learning Program, Rohrick says families can typically expect to be on wait lists for around three months, although many parents contact them years in advance.
With the investment, the group will look to built a second location in the area.
Rohrick hopes to have it running by next fall, although more realistically, it would be closer to September, 2019.
- David Opinko
Audio: Karyn Rohrick, Manager, Mountain Ridge Early Learning Program