Like most new homeowners, director Jane Joss and the 12 staff members at Elie’s Prairie Sky Child Care Center are making plans to renovate their newly-purchased building.
After leasing the 2,500 square foot building they currently occupy from Prairie Rose School Division for over four years, Joss is pleased to announce that the centre was able to purchase it. The building was recently officially declared as being surplus, allowing the sale to proceed.
"We have a permanent place now and we can do some renovations," said Joss.
But the building needs a lot more than some fresh paint and curtains, according to Joss. New windows, doors and flooring are required along with renovations to the kitchen and bathrooms.
Although all parents pay child care fees, this revenue comprises a small amount of what is needed to run the centre. Joss said she plans to apply for any government funding available, however money for capital projects offered through a provincial program wasn’t included in this year’s budget. "There was nothing announced for this year."
They are beginning to raise money for the most pressing work – replacing the windows and doors – through their own efforts. A spaghetti dinner is planned for April 12 in Elie’s Vets Hall at 34 Main St. E.
The centre now has 32 funded spots for children between three months and school-age, and another 15 spots for school-age children attending a before-and-after-school program. Joss said over 70 children up to 12 years of age attend the centre’s programs on a full-or-part-time basis. And she’s turning families away because there’s no room.
"We have quite a wait list," she said, adding that she had to tell one set of parents that she has space for their infant, but not for their older child.
"It’s very sad. We just have to provide what we can provide."
She said the lack of additional funded spaces and available child care is likely having a negative effect on young families thinking about moving into the area.
Another frustration comes from the centre’s use of the local community hall for its nursery school and before-and-after-school programs. Joss said the aging hall doesn’t really provide a safe and adequate space for the children. A better location is available, but the government would have to approve more funded spaces in order for the centre to be able to move these programs into this location.