Daycare spaces difficult to find for many. (THE NEWS/files)

Feds chip in $702k to kickstart new daycare program

Will provide 462 new spaces in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Parents will have an easier time finding daycare for their children with a new program that will provide an additional 462 spaces in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

The Family Education and Support Centre is expanding its range of services into daycare, and starting next January, will be offering 150 spaces for three-to-five-year-olds, 144 before- and after-school care spaces, 120 pre-school spaces, and 48 infant and toddler spaces.

Just under $702,000 to start up the program came from Employment and Social Development Canada.

“It is a major step for us and we’re very excited about it,” said Jenny Earley, executive-director with the Family Education and Support Centre, which currently offers a variety of support and education programs for a range of needs.

Early said the program will operate in three locations, yet to be named, in Maple Ridge. The money is being used to start the program, after which parental daycare fees will sustain it into the future.

She added that child care is needed in Maple Ridge.

“Most of the places are already full in Maple Ridge and there are waiting lists.”

Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Dan Ruimy was at the announcement Friday at the centre on Lougheed Highway.

“Creating more quality spaces where our children can learn and grow will not only support our local families, but also the future of our community,” Ruimy said in a release.

The money comes from Employment and Social Development Canada, under the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, the result of an agreement made between Ottawa and the provinces.

That same program earlier this month provided $1 million for a childcare facility at the new Albion Community Centre.

Subsidies will also be available for childcare fees.

Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden thanked the federal government, saying the money will allow the Family Education and Support Centre to “elevate their expertise and skills to support families raising our children to be strong, resilient and loved.”

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