Years in the making: North Okanagan daycare to open late summer - InfoNews

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Years in the making: North Okanagan daycare to open late summer

After years of work the North Okanagan Early Years Centre is set to open late this year.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Bridge Educational Society
June 19, 2019 - 5:33 PM

LUMBY - The North Okanagan is soon to see an extra 63 daycare spaces with the opening of Bridge Education Society's Early Years Centre.

The extra spaces will no doubt mean a lot to those struggling to find daycare, and to the volunteer board who made it happen, the Early Years Centre is the accumulation of years of hard work.

"It's super daunting and exciting at the same time," Bridge Education Society treasurer Roxanne Brierley said.

The volunteer board member said a core group of eight board members had been working on building a daycare for so long all of their children were now too old to actually attend.

With construction work almost complete the daycare centre located between Lumby and Lavington is due to its open its doors sometime in the late summer or early fall.

The not-for-profit Bridge Educational Society has run an independent school since 2006, starting with just three students and growing to become what is now the Okanagan Waldorf School taking kids from Kindergarten to Grade 8.

Run by the Society as a separate wing and in a brand new building, the Early Years Centre, is the accumulation of over five years worth of work.

When an early grant application was rejected the project went back to the drawing board and took a new direction. The plan to convert a house into daycare was abandoned and a new brick and mortar building decided on.

The workload was heavy - a grant application was once submitted with a 50-page appendix - but after years of hard work the group secured $750,000 from the provincial government and another $200,000 from private donors. Although they still need another $550,000 to hit their target of $1.5 million and their fundraising continues.

With work crews now finishing off the 6,250 square feet of space, Brierley is gratified that the daycare space will stay around for generations.

"Everything at the centre, from the physical design to all of the programming details, have been thoughtfully and thoroughly planned to meet each child at each stage of their development," Brierley said.

Brierley said the daycare will have a "ripple effect" across the community and has a significant economic impact.

"It's known that lack of child care is one of the major barriers to returning to work," she said.

Brierley said the daycare will follow the same underlying themes as a Waldorf school. She describes it as "experiential education that focusses a lot on play in those early years" and enables children to be "creative and confident and capable."

"Early years are so formative... if they enter elementary school... ready and so confident already then that's what makes a significant impact on their life," she said.

With a goal to be accessible for everybody, the daycare doesn't plan to charge more than the maximum provincial subsidy of around $1250 a month. This means the daycare would be free for anyone receiving the maximum government allowance.

With a lack of daycare availability an ongoing issue, the daycare is putting interested names on a list, before the application process starts.

How the daycare will go about the selection has not yet been finalized, Brierley said. The decision will be made by the board and involved "huge ethical issues," she said.

The daycare is currently putting interested parents on a list and will notify them when an opening date is confirmed. To be entered onto the list call: 250-547-9212.

For more information about the daycare go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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