B.C.’s first trauma-informed child care centre has officially opened in Victoria with the hope it will not only provide an important service but serve as a spark which influences daycares across the country.
Little Phoenix Daycare is the work of the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS) in partnership with Family Services of Greater Victoria (FSGV), was informed by a research project by the University of Victoria, and was funded with the help of the United Way of Southern Vancouver Island.
“It’s been a four-year vision to create a trauma-informed space, which is a unique learning environment for all children, whether they come from a background of trauma or not,” said Jane Taylor Lee, executive director of FSGV. “We are beyond thrilled to be in the space today. It has been a project and a labour of love.”
The space will welcome a total of 28 children, mostly through referrals from social service partner agencies. Children from across Greater Victoria who are not from trauma backgrounds will also be welcomed, with the goal to integrate children to create an environment of acceptance and support.
Lee said the first families to visit the space have been very impressed so far with the attention to detail which went into it.
“One of the most common comments we have heard is just how calm it is when you step into the space,” she said. “Everything from the colour palette to the sound to the imagery has come from a trauma-informed lens.”
Lee said such attention to detail was important from the start of the project as research has shown even something as small as a shadow can be a trigger for children who have experienced trauma. The goal was to create an environment where children will thrive, regardless of their unique needs.
Its location inside the Victoria Social Innovation Centre in the city’s North Park neighbourhood allows it to incorporate wraparound services like trauma counselling, art therapy, group therapy, and programs for the parents of children at the centre.
In addition to serving as a daycare, the centre will serve as a research centre and practicum workplace for UVic students.
“With the research and data UVic is able to collect, our goal long-term is to be able to inform public policy so that all daycares will be informed by this particular approach,” said Lee. “We are looking at creating environments in which children and parents feel supported … and everyone is welcome.”
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