Belated grand opening celebrates Dugald Daycare

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An official grand opening celebrating Dugald Daycare’s newest facility was held last Thursday, nearly two and a half years after the facility first opened.

Director Leola Paul said they opened in September 2019, with plans to host an official grand opening in Spring of 2020. Seven months after opening day, COVID hit prompting new protocols for daycare facilities and delaying the official event.

Early Childhood Learning Minister Wayne Ewasko said in a June 16 press release, the government is committed to ensuring all Manitoba families have access to high-quality, affordable, flexible and inclusive early learning and child-care services, regardless of where in the province they live.

GREG VANDERMEULEN / THE CARILLON Dugald Daycare Director Leola Paul said the waiting list for spots still includes about 190 names.

“I commend the dedicated staff on their hard work since this incredible facility first opened in September 2019, as they celebrate its grand opening now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.”

The new facility was created along with the renovation of Dugald School. The Public School Finance Board directed Sunrise School Division to prepare a request for proposals for a standalone childcare centre near the school. The tender was awarded in April 2018.

That turned into a 6,190 sq. ft. facility featuring six child-care classrooms, a kitchen, staff room, utility room, storage room and office.

The province also gave a startup grant of $33,000 and enclosed a piece of land behind a fence to act as a playground. Fundraising and grants have allowed the playground to be developed with two pergolas and a storage shed with other features including trees and rubber matting in the plans.

While the 74 new funded spaces including 20 for infants and 54 for pre-school aged children have made a difference, Paul said there is still a great need.

Dugald Daycare also operates at their original location with 51 funded spaces.

“We still have about 190 children on our wait list,” she said.

Finding trained staff is difficult and Paul attributes that to funding woes. Though the province is providing $450,000 in annual operating grant funding for the new spaces, the rate of funding has not risen in some time.

“Even though the cost of everything goes up, our hydro, our phone, everything, the operating grant has not gone up since 2015,” she said. “So, you can imagine constantly trying to do more with less.”

While the grand opening event took place long after the facility began to operate, Paul said it was still good to celebrate and welcome the public to take tours.

Interest in the facility has prompted her to stress that only children from the RM of Springfield can be enrolled.

“We only cater to our direct community,” she said, adding that she has gotten calls from people who live in Transcona who want access to the facility. “We have three daycares in our whole municipality.”

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