Kids on the Katzie First Nation reserve will have all their early childhood services closer to home, in about a year, once a new childcare centre is built on the Pitt Meadows reserve.
The provincial government is giving a half a million dollars to the Katzie Cultural Education Society to create 68 new childcare spaces, the government announced last week.
That won’t be enough to pay the entire costs of a new building on the reserve that will house those spaces, but will cover a good portion of it.
“We will do some self-funding as well,” said Katzie Chief Susan Miller.
Construction is supposed to start this month, with the building complete in about a year.
Currently, the new Katzie First Nation Community Health Building houses the pre-school and Head Start education programs, which means parents have to go off-reserve for regular daycare.
Once open, the new childcare centre will house all child-related programs.
“It’s a daycare that’s going to have every early learning program that’s available to children,” said Miller.
The new money will provide 32 childcare spaces for infants and toddlers up to five years old. Another 16 pre-school spaces will be provided for kids between three and five years old, plus there will be 20 more after-school childcare spaces.
“It’s a phenomenal opportunity,” said Miller.
Planning will start immediately for the building that will be located between the health centre and the band’s administration office.
“It will probably be within the year, we hope,” when the building opens, she added.
If there’s space, non-aboriginal kids could also attend.
“I think it really is going to put us in the best possible place for the really early years of education of our children, to be able to give them the best, healthiest start possible on that whole, medicine wheel-style belief, the emotional nurturing, the physical, the educational, the family – we get to do everything here for the first five years of their life before we’re sending them off to public school,” said Miller.
The B.C. Early Years Strategy is an eight-year commitment to improve the accessibility, affordability and quality of early-years programs and services for families with young children, said a release from the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
“Katzie First Nation is a rapidly evolving community, and as such, we recognize the need for quality, wrap-around childcare services that are affordable, current and inclusive,” said Torrie St. Louis, manager of early childhood education and Headstart coordinator for the Katzie First Nation.