The province is investing nearly three million dollars in three childcare centres in the Cowichan Valley, helping local families along the way.

The Cowichan Valley School District and non-profit organizations are partnering in an initiative to create 161 new child care spaces at Chemainus Elementary, the Growing Together Childcare Centre, and Khowhemun Elementary.

The Minister of State for Childcare Katrina Chen said this is just the beginning of the investments in childcare spaces.

“We’ve done quite a bit of work to lower parent fees, [the] living wage has gone down for the first time in BC because childcare costs have gone down,” said Chen. “Life is getting better for families with young children, but we’re going to learn and see how we can make that sustainable and how can we continue to look for more opportunities like this.”

Meantime, the Executive Director of the Growing Together Childcare Centre Laura Court said this funding will help expand the services provided.

“It means receiving a million dollars to create a forward-thinking, forward-moving, child-centred program, having an additional four infant/toddler spaces added to our current licence and also adding 16 three to five spaces to our current location.”

Chen said combining childcare centres with schools is a great strategy, but it’s only one of many.

“Building childcare on school grounds tends to be one of the best options for parents, so they can drop off their older kids at the school and their younger kids at the childcare [centre],” said Chen. “It also creates a sense of community [for] younger kids that are transitioning when they go to local elementary schools.

Chen hinted the more will be done.

“We definitely want more opportunities like this and, at the same time, our province is working on different affordability measures.”

Court said, through this initiative and a government subsidy, it’s more affordable to enrol your kids for childcare.

“This government has added a fee reduction, which Growing Together has been part of,” said Court. “What it means for our families currently and will be the same going forward, is a birth to three space costs one thousand dollars a month for full-time care. With the government initiative, they offer up three hundred and fifty dollars, regardless of the families structure or their income level.”

The provincial subsidy decreases to one hundred dollars when children turn three-years-old.

Chemainus Elementary will have 20 spaces for children aged three to five and 12 for infant/toddlers.

The Growing Together Childcare Centre is adding four infant/toddler spaces, bringing the total to 28, while there will be 16 spots for kids aged three to five.

Khowhemun Elementary will have 89 spaces, 25 for children aged three to five, ten pre-school spaces and 54 school-age spaces.

Minister of State for Childcare makes announcement in Duncan. (Kyle Christensen, MyCowichanValleyNow.com staff)