The Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw First Nations are building a new childcare facility on the reserve, with financial support from the province. The project, to be named Gila’ga Gangananam (“come, little one”) Head Start Daycare will have 52 licensed child care spaces.
The new facility will house the first licensed child care space on the reserve, which is sorely needed according to early childhood educator (ECE) Trina Titus, who was hired by the First Nations to open the project. She already has a list of over 50 children who need daycare.
“It means that children will be provided with quality care in their nation on reserve, as well as development of ECE staff to run the space,” Titus said.
Training new early childhood educators is crucial if the project will succeed long-term, Titus said. This will be the fourth daycare she’s opened, and the biggest challenge is always staffing.
The facility will need at least five trained and licensed staff, and Titus would like to hire locally.
“Anyone interested in becoming an early childhood educator, we can fund that training.”
The early childhood educator program is a 10-month program that can be completed online. Titus said with the current temporary facility, they can offer space for trainees to study.
Funding is coming from B.C.’s New Spaces Fund, part of the government’s focus on improving childcare access. Since it started in 2018, 16,800 new spaces have been funded. Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw’s project was approved in February, but as uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic grew, the announcement was just made on July 24.
The First Nations currently have an Aboriginal Head Start program, and were ready to open 16 spaces of licensed childcare in a temporary location this March. That plan was postponed because of COVID-19. They are planning to open the temporary childcare in September, as long as COVID-19 trends continue to improve.
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