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79 childcare spaces coming to Fernie and Elkford

Provincial funding will be used to create 79 new childcare spaces in Elkford and Fernie, allowing parents to return to work, go to school, or pursue other opportunities.

“It’s so important that families in the Kootenays have access to child care on a schedule that works for them,” said Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West. “I’m excited to see the City of Trail’s plan for an extended-hour child care centre, which means that parents who don’t work a nine-to-five job will have the options they need. About 125 new spaces across the region means more kids in our communities will have a safe space to learn and grow.”

The province said 51 licensed spaces will open up in Fernie and 28 will be added in Elkford. Trail will also benefit from provincial funding, with 46 additional spaces.

“Helping to ensure families can access safe and affordable child care where and when they need it is a priority for the trust, as informed by people living in the Columbia Basin,” said Johnny Strilaeff, president and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust. “These new spaces will be a welcome addition to assist families, caregivers and their support networks. We are happy to support this work alongside our community and provincial partners.”

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In Fernie, Bright Beginnings Community Preschool will renovate an existing facility to create the 51 new spaces for preschoolers. The renovations will bring the total number of childcare spaces available to 67. B.C. said the new spaces should be open this summer.

Meanwhile, the Elkford Child Care Centre will open up 28 spaces, including 12 for school-aged children and 16 multi-age spaces. The District of Elkford, with support from the Columbia Basin Trust, is partnering with the Elkford Women’s Task Force Society for the initiative. The Province said the centre will open in the spring of next year and will host community events throughout the year and offer free programs for families attending the facility.

Since the launch of ChildcareBC, the Province said nearly 26,000 new licensed spaces have been funded, more than 6,000 of them are now open.

“As we enter the fourth year of our 10-year Childcare BC plan, thousands of families are already feeling the life-changing impact of having affordable, quality and inclusive child care,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “As we continue to build towards an inclusive universal child care system, these new spaces will make it easier for parents, especially mothers, to pursue their own goals, while also being part of B.C.’s economic recovery.”

The B.C. Government notes that the ChildcareBC investments have saved parents in the East Kootenay more than $3.8 million collectively.

Across the Kootenays, early childhood educators have received more than $565,000 in wage enhancements.

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