A new, $25 a day child care program will be replacing the Children’s Centre Demonstration Preschool at Grande Prairie Regional College. VP Academics and Research Susan Bansgrove says they’ll have room for 28 children starting at the end of August.
“It will give some more seats, but also it will deal with younger children, which we haven’t had before, and it will be year-round. GPRC students and single parent families are the main focus, but there will also be seats for the general public as well.”
The preschool program currently in place only takes children aged three to five years old and runs four days a week from September to May. Bansgrove says the facility will be adding a room for 18 to 36 month old children, while the other will be for the older kids.
The program is one of 22 Early Learning and Child Care Centres opening up as part of a three year pilot project by the province. Bansgrove says she is proud they were one of the select few picked, and gives kudos to the college’s Human Services Department for the application they made. Along with the province, GPRC will be evaluating the program after three years.
In total, 185 spaces at Early Learning and Child Care Centres in Grande Prairie, Fairview, and Peace River will be a part of the trial program. Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley MLA Marg McCuaig-Boyd says she’s thrilled that three communities in the Peace were picked, as she pushed in cabinet to have one or two rural areas included.
“Just so we could see what works, not just for urban areas but for rural as well, so I think they’ve chosen three good areas because Grande Prairie’s a small city, Fairview is a small community, and Peace River’s a little bit bigger.”
To goal is to see how the child care program could be delivered across the province. Bansgrove says the availability and cost of putting children in day care can be a real challenge for many Albertans, especially those getting an education.
“It’s really important to our mandate to provide access to learners across age groups, whether they be parents or single parents, so it really matters and increases our ability to provide access to students.”
McCuaig-Boyd echoes that sentiment, adding that the availability and affordability of child care is an important factor when people decide where to settle down. At one point in time she was the president of the board for the Child’s World Day Care Centre, which is the pilot project location in Fairview.
“We do know, especially in small towns, if young people choose to live in a small town, or come and stay in a small town, some of the things they look at are good schools, but also affordable, accredited daycares, so I think that’s one of the things we’re going to see if we can make better.”
The current preschool program has ELCC program graduates on staff, and it’s expected they’ll continue with the new centre. Some of the details are still being worked out, but it’s believed the funding from the province will also lead to the hiring of at least a couple more staff members. Registration will be found on GPRC’s website soon.