The Bonnyville and District Daycare will be expanding, after seeing an influx of families seeking out professional childcare.
“Basically, the daycare is growing very quickly and in a nut shell, we've run out of space,” said Kim Harvie, daycare executive director. “The daycare currently has a waiting list of nine kids, six families, that are all looking for space. We can't accommodate all of the families that are looking for quality, licensed childcare.”
Harvie, along with daycare board chair Ruth Tellier, were in front of town council on March 14, requesting more room within the Parent-Child Centre to expand their service. Town council agreed to grant them the use of the FCSS multi-purpose room.
The additional space will allow the daycare to welcome the families currently waiting to enroll their children, and provide much-needed room for more kids to come in.
“For the daycare to continue to have a good bottom line, continue to grow, provide to the community, and give people reason to move here, I think we need to expand to accommodate the families that need childcare. It gets people working and it's very good quality childcare,” said Tellier.
On Oct. 1, 2016, there were only 25 kids in daycare. That has grown to the current registration of 39 children. Come April 1, it will jump up once again to 45 kids, not including the nine on the waiting list.
“We were using two rooms on Oct. 1, we opened up a third room the first week of December, and already we have to open a fourth room,” Harvie noted.
While already busy with Bonnyville's youngest residents, there is the possibility even more could be coming on board in the near future.
“It's a sign that people are working, getting back to work and finding jobs. Or, they want to be in the door if that $25 per day daycare hits,” said Harvie, adding they'll know whether or not they were successful in that grant by the end of the month.
Tellier agreed, “The game changer will be if we are successful in getting the $25 per day daycare grant, then lookout.”
The room that the daycare will be taking over was previously being used by FCSS for meeting space and overflow of Parent Link programming. However, it was only being utilized about 25 to 30 per cent of the time.
FCSS director David Beale noted that this is a “compromise solution,” but it's the best one that's available at this time.
“Bottom line is FCSS has a bit more capacity to be creative and move our programming to different places. The daycare has to expand within the Parent-Child Centre.”
Beale referenced other spaces such as the Boys and Girls Club or meeting rooms in town hall where there's the potential for them to utilize if needed.
When the daycare was first starting out, they were given a loan from the town to get things up and running. Currently, their debt sits at just under $19,000 after being given a grace period in 2016 since they ran a deficit the previous year. Both Harvie and Tellier stressed that with the growth they've seen, having the extra room to expand into will allow them to not only start making payments again, but pay-off the full amount this year.
“I see no problem with it. We all know that happy children, make happy families, and make a happy community,” said Coun. Jim Cheverie, adding that a “driving force” behind economic development is young families moving to town to work in the oil sector.
“One of the primary calls that parents make when they're contemplating a move to Bonnyville is where the schools are. The next question is do you have a daycare? Is it a safe approved daycare? And we do.”
Town council was unanimous in their vote to grant the Bonnyville and District Daycare their request for the extra room.