Options for child care are being explored for North Okanagan-Shuswap schools.
A year ago, B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming announced changes to the school act giving school boards the ability to offer before- and after-school child care.
School District 83 district principal Jennifer Findlay confirmed the school district is learning more about school-age child-care models and options. No decisions or funding commitments have been made.
A media release from the education ministry stated that when a board of education wants to operate its own child care, it would be eligible for operating and capital grants from the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Boards can use this funding to create non-profit child care programs based on the unique needs of their communities, with priority given to culturally relevant services for Indigenous families and support for students with special needs.
As an example of what a child care program could look like, Findlay referred to the Seamless Day Program child care pilot project conducted at Oliver Elementary School in School District 53 (Okanagan Similkameen). The program employed two Early Childhood Educators to offer before- and after-school care for a “seamless day for Kindergarten to Grade 2 students.”
A report completed after one year noted the Oliver Elementary project received unanimous and enthusiastic support from families, children and educators, and offered opportunities for “increased collegiality among educators, communication with families, a sense of safety and security for children and families, and an increasingly rich learning environment.”