The future is looking bright for the new child care centre at Okanagan College as another community group adds a building block to the fundraising campaign.
The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen is contributing $7,490 to the Bright from the Start: Building for the Future campaign to help enhance the outdoor play space at the new Little Learners Academy at the Penticton campus.
“We had a committee of 27 reviewers of more than 80 applications and this project was near the top of the list,” said Aaron McRann, Executive Director of the Community Foundation. “It resonated because everyone in the region is affected directly or indirectly by the challenges of finding child care and understands the need for quality early childhood education.”
A father of two, McRann is no stranger to the dilemma.
“Finding child care was an issue when my kids were younger and families in Penticton are still facing the same problem today,” he said.
McRann hopes the gift from the Community Foundation will help address part of the issue.
“We can see the immediate, positive impact our gift will have on Okanagan College students and South Okanagan families served by the centre,” he said. “We also see the bigger picture and the long-term benefits for our community that will come from this.”
The College hopes that bigger picture is something South Okanagan residents will see.
“The significance of the new centre goes beyond the boundaries of our campus and will benefit the community and economy,” said Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation.
“Providing parents access to child care empowers them to enter or stay in the workforce or focus on their own education. We thank the Community Foundation for recognizing that need and showing their support to give the next generation a quality start to their education.”
The donation from the Community Foundation will support the outdoor play area at Little Learners. The centre opened in September and is operated through a partnership between Okanagan College and the Penticton and District Community Resources Society (PDCRS).
Registration is open to families in the South Okanagan, including College students and employees.
To make a donation or learn more about the innovative project, visit okanagan.bc.ca/give.
The Penticton campus child care centre will provide 64 new child care spaces for infant and toddler care, ages 3-5 daycare, preschool, and after-school care.
The first 32 spaces opened to children in September 2017. The centre currently has 37 students enrolled and will continue to increase student intake as new programs start to meet local needs.
The facility will be the first Passive House certified child care centre in Canada, and is built to LEED Platinum standards with the goal of meeting net zero energy. As announced in fall of 2016, the Ministry of Children and Family Development has provided $500,000 through its Child Care Major Capital Funding program towards the $1.2-million building. Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation will contribute the remainder of the project cost.
Since its inception in 1991, the Community Foundation has established more than 110 funds, the value of which currently exceeds $10 million. Each year, they grant more than $400,000 to support a broad range of charitable agencies and projects that increase the quality of life in the region.