Construction is underway for the Port Alberni Friendship Centre’s new child care facility that is estimated to open in September.
Development for ?iihmisuk taatne?is (Treasure Our Little Ones) Child Care Centre began in mid-March and is contracted to West Beaufort Construction.
The City of Port Alberni has donated two of three lots on Fourth Avenue between the Friendship Centre and the former bottle depot, and that is where the new child care centre is being built.
“Basically there’s 50 spaces available,” said Cyndi Stevens, PAFC executive director. “The spaces range from zero to 12 years old.”
The facility will provide care for eight infants and toddlers, 32 children between the ages of 30 months and school age and 10 school aged children.
Anyone is welcome to apply for the centre’s childcare services but Stevens said she is expecting a majority of aboriginal families.
“We will be able to take in registrations once our license has been approved, which will likely be in late August,” Stevens said.
“However, we will be creating lists of those interested in June and they will be contacted on a first come basis.”
Findings from a needs assessment provided by the Friendship Centre state that aboriginal parents who access services at PAFC need and want licensed group child care as they pursue education, training and work. In Port Alberni 27 per cent of children under 10 years old are aboriginal.
Currently there is no culturally based aboriginal child care program in the city available.
The new child care facility will offer a child care program that is based in aboriginal culture, for children of different ages, with a fee at or near the B.C. subsidy level.
The new child care centre has received $491,595 in funding from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, which will not cover all costs for the centre.
“We don’t have a lot of money and the final construction cost for everything is going to be over $850,000 and that’s not something we expected when we got the proposal in,” Stevens said.
“At this point we’re looking for donations, fundraising and hoping for some other sources of funding.”
Stevens said anything from gently used toys, furniture and other useful supplies would be greatly appreciated if anyone would like to make donations to the daycare facility.