Despite COVID-19 induced hiccups, Elkhorn Early Learning Centre (EELC) plans to be open in September, thanks to the RM of Wallace-Woodworth agreeing to provide bridge financing until government money is released.
At the close of 2018 the EELC had a plan in place, in conjunction with the Elkhorn Curling Club, to transform the building into a multi-use facility. Curlers don’t use the clubroom in the daytime so the plan went forward.
The major renovations, the installation of a bank of window to provide natural light into the daycare area, has been completed. “There wasn’t a pile that needed to be done because the Elkhorn Curling Club is such a nice facility,” said Cousins. As spring rolled around the board knew it was time to hire staff. But financing had become an unexpected problem.
The EELC board, led by co-chairs Brittany Cousins and Ceri Johnson, sent the application for their charity number to the government office in Brandon just shortly before COVID-19 shutdowns hit.
“We had finished our application at the end of January, but nobody was in the office to look over our files,” explains Cousins. “Our charity number was in the final stages of being approved and that was put on hold.”
They’ve been waiting ever since for that document which will allow the expected government funds to be released to the new Elkhorn childcare facility.
In March, when the board realized the paper work could take a while, which could hold up opening plans, they presented their need to the municipality.
Even though the EELC had applied for grants, these were not available as operating funds. “Grants have stipulations on what that money can be used for and normally most of the money has to be used on upgrades to the facility, or buying equipment…”
Now, the daycare is down to the finishing touches - adding lockers, laundry machines and kid-sized washroom amenities – and they have good news from the municipality.
“The RM is going to be helping us out, which is excellent,” says Cousins.
Even once EELC’s application is approved and the charity number issued, it can take over a year to receive government funding. She says bridge financing will cover the short term. “Hopefully we won’t need their help for very long.”
The EELC Director, an Early Childhood Educator III, has been hired. The board is in the process of hiring two ECE II staff and a couple of Child Care Assistants.
The facility will have space for four babies (children under 2) and 16 toddler/pre-school children, but the wait-list, which began eight months ago, will not be solved when the facility opens. “We will have a wait-list after we officially grant our spots. That’ just what we have found in Elkhorn area. Lots of people are taking their children to Moosomin or to Virden. Our daycare is definitely geared to Elkhorn and surrounding area, but the spots are first-come first-served.”