The College of the Rockies received $130,000 from the province that will go towards the Early Childhood Education Program.

VIDEO: College of the Rockies expands early childhood education

Province funds $130,000 that will double capacity of ECE program

The provincial government is contributing $130,000 towards doubling the College of the Rockies’ early childhood education (ECE) program.

Melanie Mark, the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, made the announcement on Friday afternoon at the College of the Rockies Cranbrook campus.

The funding will add an additional 30 seats to the ECE program; 20 spots will be used for a one-year certificate program, and the other 10 spots will be for a two-year diploma program.

“Families deserve access to quality child care that they can afford, and making sure we have enough care providers is a key part in making that happen,” said Mark. “Early childhood education funding for programs, like the one at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, gives students the skills to succeed in a rewarding career.”

David Walls, the president and CEO of the College of the Rockies, said the funding will help provide resources for childcare in the East Kootenay region.

“This funding will allow us to better meet local demand for early childhoood educators,” said Walls, “ensuring those educators are qualified and able to provide the best possible start for our children.”

Currently, the College of the Rockies offers three ECE options; Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Education – Infant/Toddler and Early Childhood Education – Special Needs Educator, according to their program website.

“It’s great to be able to have more funding from the province, particularly around early childhood; it’s very important,” continued Walls. “As you’re aware, there’s such a shortage of daycare space and the need for educated people to work in them, so it’s fantastic news.”

Mark made the announcement in the lobby of the main campus building, surrounded by staff and a group of young children.

“It’s so vital to be out across the province to know what’s going on in people’s backyards,” Mark said. “Housing is not an urban issue. Childcare is not an urban issue, it’s a provincial issue. Affordability is not an urban issue, it’s a provincial issue and I’m proud to be part of a government that is investing and making people’s lives easier.”

Lynda Porter, a graduate out of the ECE program 24 years ago, originally enrolled as a backup plan because architecture programs that she wanted to take had long wait lists.

Porter returned to COTR in 2010 to complete her ECE – Special Needs diploma.

“Being a student here at the college laid the foundation for what would be my career, not my backup plan,” Porter said. “I actually got to the point where I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than working with children, and I haven’t.

“I had found my passion.”

She said the program has provided her many different types of child care employment that include working as an au pair overseas, working front line in preschools and daycares, a support worker for children with special needs, and currently as a consultant.

The provincial government projects that 9,100 additional early childhood educators will be required by 2027.

“ECE’s are the backbone of B.C.’s child care system,” said Katrine Conroy, the Minister of Children and Family Development. “Their passion and dedication help families every day.

“The new ECEs graduating from these seats will have a key role to play as we work to deliver affordable, accessible and quality child care under our Childcare BC plan.”