BONNYVILLE – It was a decision that turned out to be a no-brainer for two Bonnyville non-profit childcare organizations – a merger to pool resources and create greater benefits for parents. The result was the creation of the Ohana Centre.
“Basically, it came to fruition because we – myself and Sasha Johnston, who was the director of the Youth Club – were having a conversation one day on how successful our day camps were for the summer program and the No School Days,” said Kim Harvie, the director of the Ohana Centre.
Through collaboration, the directors of the former Bonnyville Youth Club and the former Bonnyville and District Daycare, approached their respective boards to discuss the possibility of combining the organizations’ efforts.
“We just found through conversation that we were offering the same services and were competing against each other, and we were both non-profit organizations,” explained Harvie. Both organizations were also serving the same demographics, which were six to 12-year-olds.
The goal of the amalgamation was to provide higher quality service and make it possible for more parents to take advantage of childcare subsidies.
On Sept. 1, the two non-profits officially joined forces under the new name, the Ohana Centre, which means family.
The centre now provides daycare for children zero to five years old and offers an out-of-school program for children ages five to 12. During the winter, spring and summer breaks, the Ohana Centre also runs an out-of-school program, noted Harvie.
Prior to the amalgamation, the Bonnyville Youth Club was unable to offer childcare subsidies to parents as it was not a fully licenced childcare provider. Now that the two organizations have merged, parents using the Ohana Centre’s out-of-school care program are able to apply for subsidies.
Nearly two months after the Ohana Centre was formed, the community was officially welcomed into the facility to take part in activities during an open house held in late October.
While the building is joined by a wall and a roof, for now, those wanting access to both sections of the Ohana Centre must leave one part of the building to enter the other.
The decision to work together has been very positive, Harvie said. “We are at full capacity right now. We could extend our capacity if we could find qualified staff for our [open] position.”
With current staffing levels, the Ohana Centre’s out-of-school program has been capped at 30 children.