There was a buzz of excitement in the lobby of the brand new Funshine II Early Learning Centre, Thursday morning, May 2. Co-Chairs of the expansion project Jillian Irvine and Shelby Rampton, along with other members of the fundraising committee and the directors of Funshine and Funshine II were on hand for the funding announcement this morning.
The governments of Canada and Manitoba are investing $2.7 million in capital funding and ongoing annual support to a new 66-space child-care centre in Virden expected to open this fall, Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Manitoba’s Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced Thursday morning at the new Virden childcare centre.
After years of planning and fundraising going back eight years, last year in April funding of $2.2 million was announced jointly by the province and the federal government. This proved to be the go-ahead for the Funshine expansion to move into the construction phase. By August of 2018, heavy equipment was at work to begin the build.
Now that it is time for the funding allocation the amount is $500 thousand over that.
“It’s amazing, it’s hard to walk through there and not shed a tear,” said Irvine. “There were many times we felt like giving up.”
She pointed out that not since the development of Virden’s recreation complex has there been such an injection of capital into Virden.
Minister Stefanson said, “Our government is proud to support this significant project in Virden, because we know how important it is for families to have a child-care centre close to home. Once it opens its doors, this centre will truly be a gathering place for friends and families for many years to come.”
She toured the Funshine Early Learning Centre located on the grounds of Virden Junior High School. This stand-alone building will provide care for 12 infants and 54 preschool children. The centre is planning to open throughout the summer and be fully operational by September.
Minister Duclos said in a press release, “I am pleased to see that a new child-care centre will be soon opening, giving more children in Manitoba access to quality learning and child care so they can have the best start in life and have a fair chance to succeed.”
In addition to the capital funding, governments will also provide an annual operating grant of more than $362,000. This funding is provided through the Canada-Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Agreement.
“We feel very blessed to see our goal of opening more licensed quality childcare spaces for the community realized,” said Irvine, “We are very grateful for the support we have received from the community and all levels of government.
“Our existing location, that will remain open at 211 Oxford St., has been serving our community for 31 years. Without the dedicated and loyal employees within the Funshine family, this expansion project would not have been possible.”
Funshine’s funding is part of an ELCC agreement, signed in February 2018, which will invest $47 million over three years to create up to 1,400 new and newly funded early learning and child-care spaces in the province. It focuses on increased quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity in early learning and child care, with consideration of families most in need of child-care services.
In addition, the agreement will also fund training resources and other opportunities for early childhood educators. One new pilot project focuses on an approach called the Circle of Security, which helps early childhood educators better connect with children who are difficult to reach, create stronger relationships with children and their families, and support children’s developing social skills and peer relationships.
Individuals currently working in early learning and child care will have the opportunity to become trained as facilitators to expand the use of this approach in more facilities and communities throughout Manitoba. Over three years, the goal is to train 100 facilitators, which will build capacity to better meet the diverse needs of all children in a secure and inclusive environment.
The Manitoba government has proclaimed April 29 to May 3 as the Week of the Early Childhood Educator, creating an opportunity to acknowledge their importance to children, families and communities. For more information about early learning and child care in Manitoba, visit www.gov.mb.ca/fs/childcare.