New childcare facility at a Pitt Meadows elementary

Minister of Education and Child Care Jennifer Whiteside spoke at the opening of Fundamentals Childcare Centre on the grounds at Davie Jones Elementary on Friday morning, May 6. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)Minister of Education and Child Care Jennifer Whiteside spoke at the opening of Fundamentals Childcare Centre on the grounds at Davie Jones Elementary on Friday morning, May 6. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen, and Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare sit down in the new childcare centre beside Davie Jones Elementary School in Pitt Meadows. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen, and Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare sit down in the new childcare centre beside Davie Jones Elementary School in Pitt Meadows. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare walks by cubbyholes where children have hung their bags and coats for the day. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare walks by cubbyholes where children have hung their bags and coats for the day. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
School board trustees, council members and other guests listen to speeches on the opening day of Fundamentals Childcare Centre beside Davie Jones Elementary School in Pitt Meadows. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)School board trustees, council members and other guests listen to speeches on the opening day of Fundamentals Childcare Centre beside Davie Jones Elementary School in Pitt Meadows. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
The front entrance to Fundamentals Childcare Centre. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)The front entrance to Fundamentals Childcare Centre. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

A new childcare facility has opened up on the grounds of Davie Jones Elementary in Pitt Meadows.

Run by Fundamentals Childcare Centre, it will offer 59 spaces for families, including: 25 spaces for children aged three to five, 10 spaces for preschool children, and 24 spaces for school-aged children for before and after school.

However, those spots have already been filled up and there is currently a waiting list to get into the centre – about five to 10 people for the three to five program and out of school care is longer, said Fundamentals director and owner Allison Didrikson.

“Some families are struggling for September, because we filled up so quickly for Davie Jones Elementary, in particular,” she said.

The grand opening event on Friday, May 6, was attended by Minister of State for Childcare Katrina Chen, Minister of Education and Childcare Jennifer Whiteside, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare, Maple Ridge Mission MLA Bob D’Eith, SD42 school board chair Korleen Carreras, along with various school board trustees and City of Pitt Meadows council members, among other guests.

The new centre has many accessible features like a wheelchair ramp and new high-efficiency mechanical systems.

“This is such a wonderful facility for the community. It is so amazing to have a school district who’s such an early adopter of childcare on school grounds,” said Beare, who noted children who attend the childcare centre will be able to transfer into the school next door seamlessly.

And, she said, it will make it easier for parents who currently have children attending Davie Jones to drop off and pick up all of their children in the one spot.

Chen was impressed by how the space will be used for different purposes, like before and after school care, in addition to being a pre-school.

Since 2018, 30,500 new childcare spaces that have been funded by the government across the province through ChildCareBC, Chen said, calling it “the fastest space creation ever.”

It takes time, she elaborated, because of construction and the impact of COVID. However, said Chen, about 10,000 spaces are in operation across B.C., including thos at Davie Jones.

Preference for the spaces has been given to children whose siblings already attend Davie Jones. However, Carreras added, that half of elementary schools in the district now have childcare, in total 11 schools, and quite often many of the childcare providers pick up from other schools.

READ ALSO: Provincial 2022 budget allows for investments in childcare and programs for B.C. families

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At the moment, noted the school board chair, there are no more immediate plans to open childcare within the school district.

“But not to say that there isn’t any further thoughts on how we could expand and what that could look like,” she remarked, adding there is always an open dialogue between the province and the school district.

Chen said the province, with help from the federal government, will have close to $300 million to build more spaces next year in B.C., adding that SD42 is a great example that they can share with other districts.

“Half of your schools have childcare. This is really something to brag about,” she said.

Whiteside added that the 60 school districts across the province are all at different stages in the process of creating childcare spaces on school grounds.

“We’re sort of in the early days of the transition of childcare to education and we’re working with partners to identify what are the best practices across the province, certainly Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows is one of the best practices that we point to,” said Whiteside.

SD42 received $2.1 million in 2020, from the province’s ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund, to create this childcare facility.


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