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New Westminster schools exploring ways to increase child care

Trustees want SD40 to explore more in-school options using existing district staff.
Child care classroom GettyImages
The New Westminster school board wants SD40 to explore the possibility of offering child-care in schools, employing existing district staff.

The New Westminster school district will explore ways to increase before-and-after-school care in schools using existing district staff.

Trustee Dee Beattie presented a motion to that effect at the Tuesday, May 10 board meeting. Beattie requested that staff report back on the issue for the Oct. 4 operations committee meeting – a motion that won unanimous support from the board.

“We have a dire need for more child care in New Westminster,” Beattie said.

SD40 currently works with the non-profit Westminster Children’s After-School Society to provide out-of-school care at local schools. It currently has 449 spaces available and more than 800 children on the waitlist for care.

Beattie reminded trustees that the board recently heard from a parent who said they’re considering moving away from the city because they can’t find child care. She added it’s the perfect time to delve into the issue, given that child care is now under the umbrella of the newly named Ministry of Education and Child Care.

Beattie’s motion points to the Seamless Day child-care program the district launched this year at École Qayqayt Elementary School, where two ECE workers provide care for 12 students before and after class.

She’d like the district to find ways to provide similar alternatives with existing district staff – such as education assistants, noon-hour supervisors and youth workers – who currently work part-time hours.

Beattie suggested a report from staff should include a cost analysis, input from stakeholders, discussion with the Ministry of Education and Child Care, and discussions with other districts that have adopted a similar model of care.

Superintendent Karim Hachlaf said staff would be able to provide a preliminary report at the Oct. 4 operations committee meeting, with an eye on continuing to work on the issue with the new school board following the Oct. 15 elections.

“This won’t be a static report,” he said. “I think it will still anchor us as a preliminary plan.”

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
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