Twelve new childcare seats in Sunningdale, four new spots in Rossland, the betterment of an East Trail fun space, and new strollers at another Trail daycare will all be in play this year thanks to a first-time grant program from Columbia Basin Trust (Trust).
The Trust recently announced a $1 million boost toward 100 new childcare spaces and improvements to 41 facilities across the Basin through its new Child Care Capital Grants program, which collectively includes approx. $138,000 for four local child care centres.
“We are very excited to have received the grant through Columbia Basin Trust,” says Director Brandon Blayney, of Little Scholars Montessori & Children’s Village in East Trail.
The organization’s $34,650 grant will be used to resurface the outdoor and indoor play areas to help reduce dust.
“We plan on removing all the current grass and replacing it with AstroTurf,” Blayney explained. “With putting in AstroTurf we are hoping to reduce the dust content that is tracked into the building during the summer season when it is so dry out,” he added.
“Also with this, help reduce the lead content that is possibly exposed to the children.”
The centre will also be replacing the carpet in the infant/ toddler program.
“We are replacing it with a product that has less chance of keeping dust and other particles in it,” Blayney said. “Which makes it safer for infants and toddlers to crawl around on.”
The school has been fundraising for the past few years to help with the projects.
Blayney said, “But with the approval of the grant, we are able to put these changes in effect much sooner.”
This is the first intake of the program, which launched in fall 2017 and is offering $1 million per year for three years. Projects are eligible if they create new licensed child care spaces or upgrade quality and safety aspects of their facilities and equipment.
“These new spaces are an essential step forward in helping families around the Basin access child care,” said Johnny Strilaeff, CEO of Columbia Basin Trust. “We’re also helping child care providers add equipment and upgrade their facilities to provide safer and more engaging places that support early learning and healthy child development.”
Besides improvements at the Montesorri school, Sunningdale Children’s Centre will use its $75,000 to add 12 new spaces to the 78-seat facility. Located in the former Sunningdale Elementary School, the centre plans to develop a new infant/toddler space, renovate flooring and purchase new equipment to support ongoing delivery of child care. Golden Bear Children’s Centre in Rossland will use its $26,720 grant to renovate and add four new spaces, and Trail’s Happy Planet Child Care will purchase new strollers and play furniture with its $2,300 grant.
The grant program is one way the Trust is supporting child care in the Basin. Through its $3.6-million Child Care Support Program, announced in fall 2017, the Trust also offers a Program Advisor and the Early Childhood Educators Workforce Development Fund. These help child care providers address business challenges and workforce needs.
Early childhood and child development is one of the Trust’s 13 strategic priorities.