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Upgrades announced for childcare centre in Kelowna

Lesly Lutes of the Children’s Learning Centre, left, and Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister of Children and Family Development, were at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna on Friday to announce funding upgrades to a childcare centre.
Lesly Lutes of the Children’s Learning Centre, left, and Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister of Children and Family Development, were at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna on Friday to announce funding upgrades to a childcare centre. Global News

British Columbia’s Minister of Children and Family Development was at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna on Friday to announce upgrades to a childcare centre.

The announcement is part of the province’s Childcare B.C. Plan.

“I’m so excited to formally announce the partnership between UBC and daycare with the new grant for over $1,000,000 from the B.C. government,” said Lesley Lutes, president of the board of directors of the Children’s Learning Centre.

The centre will be increasing its capacity by 50 per cent.

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The province says while it knows there’s still a demand for more childcare space, this is a step in the right direction.

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“We know it’s needed. We’ve heard from parents across the province that child care was a priority for them,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “We have announced more than 10,000 new spaces.”

Currently, the daycare is licenced to care for 37 children, but will be able to care for 57 kids after the renovations.

For several years, the centre’s waitlist has been extensive, reaching more than three years.

“We have currently 180 families on the waitlist,” said Lutes.

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Many parents have applied before their child is even born, and many still have to wait years before they are able to get full-time child care.

“We know that for infants and toddlers, it is the most problematic, particularly for mothers who are trying to go back to work,” said Lutes. “They’re having to wait upwards of three years to get full-time care.”

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While this expansion provides some relief, there is still an overwhelming need for more child care services.

“There is a huge shortage, I considered myself very lucky,” said Amy Hobbs, parent of two toddlers at the daycare. “I’ve heard of friends that have returned to work and they still don’t have a space, so they have to delay their return (to work).”

The daycare center offers an infant program for children aged eight months to three years, and a preschool program with full-daycare, for children aged three to five.

Renovations are expected to be finished around September.

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