Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
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This article was published 19/9/2016 (1426 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Having secure, affordable childcare helps a community to prosper, and Haley Schroeder said the newly-opened Country Kids Learning Centre in St. Francois Xavier is already making a difference.
"This building represents a lot to our community," said Schroeder, chair of the daycare centre’s board and parent of three children ages seven and five years, and nine-months.
While the daycare centre has operated in leased space for over ten years — first in the local grocery store and then in St. Francois Xavier Community School — a new stand-alone 5,600-square-foot building is now home to the centre at 991B Highway 26. Located on the front section of the school grounds, the daycare’s two levels accommodate 44 preschoolers and eight infants. A before- and after-school program is still run within the school.
The centre has large windows, child-height sinks and toilets, flooring that can be easily cleaned, folding screens to divide large areas into smaller spaces, and a fenced, landscaped green space for outdoor play.
Schroeder said it’s stressful enough getting young children ready for school and daycare without having to drop them off at more than one location before heading to your own job. The fact that Prairie Rose School Division was willing to lease land to the centre meant that the new building could be situated next to the school that offers K to Grade 6 classes.
"It’s great to be able to keep siblings together. It’s reassuring for my kids," she said.
The larger space also allowed the daycare to increase the number of childcare spaces, with an extra 20 spots for preschool children and the new eight-space infant program. Staff increased by three full-time and two part-time employees.
"We were able to welcome 20 new families to our centre," said Cheryl Hamilton, the centre’s executive director. She added that two families from Alberta moved into the area after finding out about the new centre.
Schroeder said real estate agents have contacted the centre to find out about childcare availability.
The centre was constructed over the course of a year at a total cost of approximately $1.4 million. While a provincial grant covered $550,000, about $125,000 came from other provincial programs, municipal funding and fundraising efforts by the centre’s parents and staff. The remainder of the cost is being financed.
"This highlights the importance of grassroots community effort and fundraising," Schroeder said.
Planning for the new centre began at least 10 years ago, as parents whose children are now well past pre-school, and long-time staff such as Hamilton, worked toward the large goal of having a dedicated space for the centre. Hamilton said she wants to credit former executive director Lori Renton with her work on the project.
Schroeder said the centre’s Growing Roots in Our Community fundraising campaign will wrap up on Oct. 1. A mural will be created inside the centre and feature donors’ names.
While staff and children moved into the new centre on Aug. 15, an official opening is planned for Wed., Sept. 28 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. with a ribbon-cutting at 6:30 p.m.
Schroeder said the centre’s board is talking to local groups about having them use part of the centre to hold evening and possibly weekend programs.
"We’re hoping to use the space for other resources for the community," she said.
For more information about Country Kids Learning Centre, see countrykidslearningcentre.ca
Community journalist — The Headliner
Andrea Geary is the community journalist for The Headliner. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org Call her at 204-697-7124
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