Elmira is getting its chunk of a province-wide $120 million Child Care Investment, announced at the beginning of the month by the leading Liberal Party.
Some $2.4 million is going towards the now-under-construction Riverside Public School in Elmira, covering a large portion of cost to build the new child care centre within the school. The current plan is to fill up 88 spots, housed in five rooms.
Nancy Dickieson, director of children’s services at the Region of Waterloo, says the funding will save the region some money.
“The provincial funding announcement will reduce the funding obligation for the region by $2.4 million for this project,” she wrote in an email to the Observer, adding that even with the funding announcement, the future of the regionally-funded Elmira facility is uncertain. “The Elmira Children’s Centre, which is the facility that is being replaced with the new building, is one of the five centres directly operated by the Region of Waterloo.”
The Elmira location is one of five the region is looking at closing as a cost-saving measure. The issue is expected to be discussed at the next regional council meeting.
When the construction on the new facility is complete, the region will unroll a transitional plan, aimed at a smooth switch for the 31 children currently attending the Elmira Children’s Centre, and prepare to expand the program to enroll another 57 children by January 2017, bringing the centre up to its full capacity.
The money comes during a push by the provincial Liberals to open up child care to more and more families in Ontario.
May Nazar, communications and public relations with the provincial government, says the close proximity of the day care to the new public school will make life easier for both parents and children, especially in Elmira.
“Creating more licensed child care spaces in local schools will give children the opportunity to transition from child care into full-day kindergarten at the same location, making for an easier adjustment,” she wrote in an email interview. “In rural communities, schools are often the hub of the community and building child care in the school supports convenience and one-stop drop-offs for parents.”
The construction on the new Riverside Public School officially broke ground at the start of last month and is scheduled to open in time for classes in September 2016.