Look for the K-W YMCA to join in the childcare offerings housed at Elmira’s Riverside Public School, as regional council last week made formal an agreement with the organization.

The November 14 vote was largely a formality, as the region had earlier this year chosen the YMCA to run its EarlyON Child and Family Centre.

Serving as the “lead” for the program, the Y responsible for the day-to-day operation of EarlyON services through Waterloo Region, including at the Elmira Family Centre, located at Riverside PS. The new sublicense agreement continues the transition of operating the EarlyON Centre at the Elmira location from the Region of Waterloo to the YMCA.

“The vision for this space has stayed consistent,” explained Kim Sanguesa, manager of early learning services for the Region of Waterloo. “It’s still going to be a hub where community service providers will come in and provide service to children and families, but it will be operated under the EarlyON brand.

“[The sublicense] really just finalizes that last agreement piece. The sublicenses were already in place, but it was conditional upon council approval of the sublicense. The intention to have it as a hub has been there from the beginning, so this was just a bit more of a formality and making it a final approval,” she added.

Councillors also approved a separate sublicense agreement with the Elmira Community Nursery School, allowing it to continue operating a half-day community nursery program at the Elmira centre. The nursery school was also a tenant at the previous location of the Elmira children’s centre.

Services at the nursery school are expected to continue as is.

“We’re still alive and well, and loving our new space. It’s quite a beautiful space,” said Diane Martin, a registered early childhood educator hired to supervise the nursery program, of the Riverside Public School location.

The EarlyON Centre, similarly, is not seeing any immediate change, but will likely continue to adapt and grow as the YMCA continues leading the service.

“What’s happening here for families [looks] very similar to what it did when the region was directly operating it,”  said Sanguesa. “But the benefit that the Y being the lead agency for the whole system across our region, they can then leverage the partnerships that they already have existing at some of the child and family sites to bring those services and those service providers to this location.”

The EarlyON brand was launched in early 2018 by the province of Ontario to bring a number of distinct child and family services offered by the province under one roof.

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