The Women’s Contact Society and city of Williams Lake are hoping to secure funding for more childcare spaces.
Jointly they are applying for a BC New Childcare Spaces Fund grant to create childcare spaces in a facility adjacent to the WCS’s existing Kidcare Daycare at 1115 Western Avenue that opened in 2016.
If it goes ahead, the city would be providing some land, said Irene Willsie, WCS executive director.
“Any actual building will be dependent on the approval of the application,” she added.
City of Williams Lake economic development officer Beth Veenkamp said the proposed site is on city-owned park land and if funding was approved to build the daycare it would require a park disposition.
“We would not start that unless we were approved for the $3 million,” Veenkamp noted, adding the call for applications has not gone out from government yet, but the city has design plans ready to go that were initially proposed for a childcare facility next to the Seniors Activity Centre.
Willsie said Kidcare Daycare has an extensive waiting list at all times and from time to time been forced to close a classroom because of a shortage of staff.
“Staffing for childcare centres is very challenging across B.C. and Canada and we desperately need to have local training,” said Willsie, noting the WCS has invested in upgrading for current staff and if they do ad spaces would be looking to hire additional staff.
The province is also heavily investing in programs to help people access early childhood education training so hopefully more people will be attracted in the sector, she said.
Back in 2016, the WCS knew the centre was not adequate to meet the needs of the community.
“Did we have a plan in mind to expand further? We didn’t have a firm plan, but we knew it was a possibility. It was really contingent on funding availability from the province. We invested a great deal of money into the centre and built a centre that was larger and more expensive than what the funding paid for.”
Willsie said the funding formula has changed since they were planning for the Kidcare Daycare.
The WCS is in the process of figuring out the number of spaces they will be applying for and the flexibility they will be trying to accomplish so it can be used for the largest variety of age groups possible and full-range of care that is needed by the community such as hours of operation and days of operation.
“It will be approximately 70 spaces but that is a subjective number because it depends on the age group you license a space for. If we have staff available to have an after school program we could do that or if we have staff available for infant toddler spaces then we would hope to offer that.”