Happy Ridge Early Learning Academy is opening up with 40 new child care spaces. (Happy Ridge/Special to The News)

Province announces 40 more child care spaces in Maple Ridge

Happy Ridge Early Learning Academy is slated to open next month

As parents return to work throughout B.C., the province announced efforts Thursday to make child care more accessible for families in Maple Ridge.

They’re doing so by investing in 40 new licensed spaces, scheduled to open in July, said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care when announcing the impending opening Thursday morning.

Providing inclusive, quality child care is key for building a strong, vibrant community and economy, Chen said.

“For too long, the child care needs of Maple Ridge families were ignored,” she elaborated. “Through our Childcare BC plan and with these 40 new spaces, we’re making progress towards ensuring all families in Maple Ridge have access to affordable child care.”

With support from what the province labels its Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, Happy Ridge Early Learning Academy is creating 40 new licensed child care spaces – that includes 20 infant/toddler spaces and 20 spaces for children aged three to five years.

RELATED: Maple Ridge working on child care plan

Hearing the new centre was counting down days to next month’s opening, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare said she knows how big a difference it will make to a lot of local families.

“The new accessible spaces at Happy Ridge Early Learning Academy will provide parents with the opportunity to return to work or school while knowing their child is gaining valuable life skills in a safe environment,” the NDP MLA said.

With renovations nearing completion to space, located underneath the Meadow Ridge Child Development Centre in the 21700-block of Lougheed Highway, the centre will soon be fully accessible, confirmed Happy Ridge owner Anna Chin.

It will include widened hallways and paths and an accessible washroom.

The centre will also have dedicated staff who speak multiple languages to ensure families with English as a second language are able to fully participate and understand the programs and materials, Chin said.

“As entrepreneurs and professionals in the child care field, we are eager to help with the increasing demand of child care services, especially with the economy reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic,” Chin said.

“We are happy to be getting this funding support from the provincial government, which enables us to increase our current capacity and provide more spots to serve the community.”

RELATED: Non-profit Maple Ridge preschool closing after 30 years

Children at this Reggio-inspired centre will experience a student-led curriculum where they are encouraged to pursue their own interests through discovery, exploration, and creativity. The centre will also provide lunch, snacks, diapers, and wipes for children at the centre, as well as resources such as an introduction to the Canadian Early Years Philosophy and the Canada Food Guide.

These new spaces in Maple Ridge are part of the fastest creation of child care spaces in B.C.’s history, adding to the provincial total to more than 17,000 new licensed spaces since July 2017.

Since launching in February 2018, the Childcare BC plan has helped parents save almost $500 million through the Affordable Child Care Benefit (ACCB) and Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative (CCFRI).

More than 69,500 children have been approved for ACCB benefit plans since the start of the program. And currently, more than 61,000 licensed child care spaces are approved to receive CCFRI funding.

Investing in child care and early childhood education is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus.

As a direct result of some of these provincial initiative, Albion Good Beginnings Daycare in Maple Ridge became one of more than 50 Childcare BC universal prototype sites, providing seven spaces for children up to the age of 12 for no more than $10 a day.

RELATED: Private daycare operators in Maple Ridge opt out of government plan

Likewise, the City of Maple Ridge also received a $25,000-grant through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ community child care planning grant program, to help create a long-term child care plan to support families in the community.

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ACCESSING MORE CHILD CARE INFORMATION

For more information on child care in Maple Ridge, visit: www.comservice.bc.ca/programs-services/children-youth-family-services/childcare/childcare-resource-referral-program

More information on health and safety standards for child care, plus the latest COVID-19 related child care information is available at: www.gov.bc.ca/ChildCareCovid-19Response

For more about Childcare BC, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare

To learn more about the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/newspacesfund

To find child care in your community, view the online child care map: http://maps.gov.bc.ca/ess/hm/ccf/

For more information on the Childcare BC Universal Prototype Sites, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcareprototypesites

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• If there is more to this issue, please let us know about it. Email us at editor@mapleridgenews.com. We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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Happy Ridge Early Learning Academy is opening up with 40 new child care spaces. (Happy Ridge/Special to The News)

Happy Ridge Early Learning Academy is opening up with 40 new child care spaces. (Happy Ridge/Special to The News)

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