More than 1,800 new child care spaces should be under construction by this fall, with the latest round of financing from the B.C. government.
The $11.3 million budget for this year is the third phase of a child care expansion project funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
One of the 30 new or expanded facilities, selected from funding applications received in January, will be in Cranbrook, as the High Peak Early Learning Centre is receiving $22,191 to create 16 spaces for children aged three to five years.
High Peak is the initiative of two sisters, Laura Moulton and Carey Henry, who have a bright, newly renovated space leased from — though not affiliated with — the Four Square Church building (the former Central School on 10th Avenue South in Cranbrook).
Moulton is trained in Early Childhood Education, specializing in children with special needs, as well as infants and toddlers. Henry has a degree in business. The two decided to pursue their dream of opening High Peak “after hearing yet another complaint about the chronic shortage of child care space in the area.” They accordingly applied for the government funding, and learned last week they had received it.
“We worked long and hard, pulling all-nighters to apply,” Henry said. “But we were going to go ahead no matter what.”
Moulton and Henry had the space on 10th Avenue in mind from the start. It has a large bright room, and outdoor play area. It’s close to downtown in a nice area, and there is room to expand.
Moulton said High Peak is in the process of obtaining its license to operate, and should be ready to open by August.
“Our documents have been approved, and the Interior Health Licensing Inspector will be out to inspect the premises in the coming weeks.”
The $22,000 will go towards stocking the centre: tables, toys, beds and such, and will be using natural items — wooden toys for example. As well as this nature-based approach, High Peak will follow the Reggio Emilia Approach to child care.
The Reggio Emilia Approach, named after the Italian city where it was developed in the post-war years —is an educational philosophy focused on preschool and primary education, with a strong focus on social communication, working in groups with equal participation, and the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery.
Henry describes it as “changing the future by empowering children.”
High Peak will also have a solid focus on nutrition, offering two healthy snacks and a lunch every day.
Moulton and Henry added that High Peak really came together through a community effort.
“Members of the church volunteered and helped with renovations — to the bathroom facility, new flooring, new paint … and Livingstones Development did major renos, ripping out old walls and old carpet. Everyone was very generous.”
For more information on High Peak Early Learning Centre, go to www.highpeakelc.com.
The ministry has posted a new child care map on its website to help parents locate facilities. It can be found at maps.gov.bc.ca/ess/hm/ccf/
The province provides child care subsidies to qualified low-income parents, and covers about 15 per cent of daycare operating costs. But the cost of land and operations drives the price of child care up to $1,400 per month or more in urban areas. Minister Stephanie Cadieux said the province is working with municipalities to review regulations.
With files from Tom Fletcher/Black Press