Searching for a place to grow QC children’s programs

Where can 17 preschoolers and their parents meet in Queen Charlotte and play for free?

Staff with Haida Gwaii’s child care agencies are asking, and wondering if the village can help.

Without an elementary school, Queen Charlotte lacks an ideal space to host a free, regular drop-in program for caregivers and children from birth to age six.

Alicia Embree, coordinator for Child Care Resource and Referral — the children’s program run by the Islands Wellness Society — said they did have some success running a preschool playgroup in the last year at the Queen Charlotte Youth Centre.

“That came out of a community need,” Embree said, speaking at an Oct. 16 council meeting.

“We had kind of a baby boom, as you probably all noticed here in Queen Charlotte.”

But without a dedicated space, Embree said staff had to spend too much setting up and packing away children’s things at the youth centre, which is also well used by the youth, especially in summer.

While the QC Child Centre above the community hall is home to regular daycare programs, it is a bit small to comfortably fit all the families who want to join a free drop-in.

Winnie Tsai, also with CCRR, said they do run a Friday morning playgroup at the Child Centre now, but besides being a bit small, the rental fees don’t leave much room to expand the program or to start any new ones. Funded by B.C.’s Ministry of Child and Family Services, CCRR runs programs across the islands, so its rental budget can be spread a bit thin.

Queen Charlotte council agreed to send a liaison to the all-islands roundtable meetings on child care programs organized by Success by 6, and will also have staff look into any options for setting up a new, dedicated child care space in the village.

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