A new immigrant-housing project plagued by delays will get some good news today -- it will be the site of the province's newest early childhood education hub.

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A new immigrant-housing project plagued by delays will get some good news today -- it will be the site of the province's newest early childhood education hub.

Melanie Wight, minister of children and youth opportunities, is to announce the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM) housing complex on Isabel Street will include a new family resource centre and a casual drop-in daycare to complement the full-time daycare centre already under construction.

Melanie Wight

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Melanie Wight

The collection of services for immigrant parents will form the province's second early childhood development hub meant to help struggling children get ahead.

The province has been under pressure to invest more in early childhood education -- everything from Head Start programs to parenting courses to high-quality daycare. Wight said the hubs are meant to be one-stop shopping for parents and will be tailored to local neighbourhood needs.

The hub is good news for the IRCOM project, now more than a year late and troubled by a lawsuit that stalled the $14.7-million project.

The 60-unit housing complex was to be completed a year ago. But a dispute between the original general contractor and the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corp. (MHRC) resulted in the termination of the contractor last summer when the project was two-thirds complete. The general contractor, M & L General Contracting Ltd., sued the province for more than $6 million shortly after it was locked out of the work site.

Now, the province says the housing project, which will be managed by IRCOM, will likely be finished this fall.

It will include new and bigger space for the Freight House early learning and child-care centre now located across the street. And it will include casual drop-in daycare for parents who need occasional child-minding, while staff at the new family resource centre do outreach, offer parenting programs and help children connect with other services. The family resource centre will cost the province an additional $100,000 a year.

The hub will be the second one created by the province. The first is in Lord Selkirk Park, the Manitoba Housing complex in the William Whyte neighbourhood that's seen a renaissance in recent years. There, an innovative, parent-run daycare centre works with a family resource centre and an outreach worker who goes door-to-door building trust with parents.

Wight said the hub model, in which services are concentrated in one neighbourhood location, is the future of the province's early childhood education strategy.

"Personally, I want them all over the province," said Wight.

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca