As more parents return to work, the province is opening nearly 240 new licensed child care spaces across the Fraser Valley.
According to a release from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, 110 of the 239 new spaces are expected to open by fall. The spaces are divided into four projects across four municipalities: Abbotsford (99 spaces), Agassiz (30 spaces), Chilliwack (78 spaces) and Hope (32 spaces).
“As the population of the Fraser Valley continues to grow, these new child care spaces are welcomed with open arms,” said MLA Pam Alexis (Abbotsford-Mission). “Our government knows how important available child care is, and we’re delivering.”
In Agassiz, the Ewolem Seabird Child and Youth Centre is set to open in Jan. 2023, located in the Seabird Island community and creating 30 new spaces for school-aged children. This centre is part of a multi-phase project that will include drop-in programs and access to laundry and shower facilities.
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon. “It’s great to see our government investing in Kent and Chilliwack.”
Paddon added not only is this a vital step in making universal child care more of a reality, but with facilities being more accessible to people with disabilities, it aligns closely with her and fellow Chilliwack MLA Dan Coulter’s aim to improve accessibility and inclusion standards across the province. She spoke in support of Bill 6: Access British Columbia Act during a legislative session on May 10.
In Abbotsford, Sandbox Early Learning Society is renovating a commercial space to open 24 infant and toddler spaces and 75 spaces for children aged three years to kindergarten. It is slated to open next fall.
The Fraser River CEC-Centre of Early Childhood Development and Family Services in Chilliwack is coming this fall. This facility is designed in part to support essential workers from Chilliwack General Hospital as well as other community members and will include 20 infant and toddler spaces, 28 spaces for children aged three years to kindergarten and 30 spaces for school-age children.
Also coming this fall, in the Shxw’owhamel First Nation near Hope, Little Sturgeon Child Care will support community members interested in early childhood educator certificates in addition to opening 32 new child care spaces. These spaces break down to 12 infant and toddler spaces and 20 for children aged three years to kindergarten.
Since Childcare B.C. launched in 2018, 14 additional projects have been funded across the Fraser Valley, including the Symmetry Early Learning Centre in Abbotsford, which opened up 25 new spaces and included upgrades to the indoor facility as well as the outdoor play area.
Across the province, the government has funded nearly 26,000 new licensed spaces since 2018 (including 766 in Abbotsford and 498 in Chilliwack), more than 6,000 of which are now open. This year marks the fourth year of a 10-year initiative to expand affordable child care.