The New Westminster school district wants to create new child-care spaces

The district will need government funding to make it happen

Finding adequate child care is a challenge for many parents, but the New Westminster school district wants to make things a little easier by creating at least 100 new child-care spaces in the coming years.

In June, district staff presented the previous board with a report that looked at the feasibility of creating new spaces on school sites. The report indicated there was immense pressure on the child-care spaces currently offered at schools in partnership with non-profit operators. Waiting two to three years for a spot was common, according to the report.

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In an attempt to remove some of this pressure, the New Westminster school district intends to apply for money from the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s new child-care spaces funding program.

The goal is to create at least 24 new spaces for kids aged three to five and 20 new school-age spaces at Richard McBride Elementary; 20 school-age spaces at Queensborough Middle School; and 12 infant-toddler spaces and 24 three-to-five spaces at Queen Elizabeth Elementary.

With a new $22.6 million Richard McBride expected to open in 2021, the district wants the new child-care spaces built into the school.

The district has also asked the Ministry of Education to fund a 12-classroom expansion at Queen Elizabeth, currently the number 1 priority on the district’s five-year capital plan, so it’s likely the proposed new child-care spaces would also be built into the expansion project, according to district superintendent Karim Hachlaf.

But if the district receives the child care funding from the province, it would have to commit to keeping these spaces open for no less than 15 years, according to Hachlaf.

He’s concerned about what would happen if, 10 years down the road, the district needed to use space for classrooms at McBride and Queen Elizabeth elementary schools.

“The key here is to ensure this does not compromise our K-to-12 enrolment,” he said.

Right now, staff are working out the details in consultation with the City of New Westminster and the Ministry of Children and Family Development to determine how best to proceed with the McBride proposal.

The Queen Elizabeth Elementary child-care spaces proposal will hinge on how things go at McBride.

At Queensborough Middle School, staff have already begun the cost analysis for its proposal. The new spaces would include two portables, with washrooms, for before-and-after-school care for an estimated 40 kids, according to Hachlaf. 

“(This) would need the school district to apply for the maximum amount of the ministry’s new child-care spaces funding of $1 million,” Hachlaf told trustees at a meeting in November.

Childcare BC new spaces fund:

What is it?

In July, the Ministry of Children and Family Development announced $221 million over the next three years to support the creation of 22,000 new licensed child care spaces.

How is the money being allocated?

Funding is available in three categories: up to $1 million per facility for public-sector partnerships with non-profit child-care providers; up to $500,000 for non-profit child-care providers, child development centres and public bodies including school boards, Indigenous organizations/bands or tribal councils, and First Nations governments; and up to $250,000 for private child-care providers.

What are the requirements?

Funding is given out based on a set of priorities, including to those that provide new licensed infant-toddler spaces; serve vulnerable and underserved communities; are part of a public-sector partnership with non-profit child-care providers; and can offer child-care services outside core business hours, according to the ministry.

When is the deadline?

There is no deadline. Applicants can submit their applications when ready and the funding will be doled out based on availability throughout the fiscal year.

Click here for more information.

Source: Ministry of Children and Family Development

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