Governments paint a brighter future by funding more child care

Prince Albert Carlton MLA Joe Hargrave fingerpaints with children at St. Catherine Catholic School. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

The federal and provincial governments are funding 150 more child care spaces in Saskatchewan—54 of them are here in Prince Albert.

The spots belong to Children’s Choice Child Development and Co-operative, who partner with Prince Albert Catholic Schools.

They currently provide child care centres at St. Michael Community School, St. Francis School and École St. Anne School, but the additional spaces will allow them to open up a new one at St. Catherine Catholic School.

It’s scheduled to open by March of 2020.

Executive director of Children’s Choice Gail Szautner said the area needs it.

“There’s a lot of young families in Crescent Heights; a lot of young families who require all sorts of different childcare arrangements—two parent working families, single parents that can be working or going to school, it’s all over,” she said.

They follow the Ministry of Education’s curriculum called Play and Exploration.

Szautner said the focus is on learning through interaction.

“Children don’t learn colours by being drilled with flash cards. Children learn their colours because we mix them. We make purple; we make green; we buy red, blue and yellow paint and white so that the children can experience making the other colours. It’s basically when we do it, we learn it,” she explained.

To her, partnerships are crucial for building the community: “It’s about what we can do together, not looking at barriers that stop us.”

Prince Albert Carlton MLA Joe Hargrave emphasized the importance of child care on mental health growing up.

“That’s where it starts, right? By the time they get to be an adult, it’s all engrained. If we can start them off when they’re at this age, when they’re at that young age, we can make a difference in their lives,” he said.

Board chair of Prince Albert Catholic Schools George Bolduc said he’s grateful for the government’s support.

“We couldn’t do it on our own. There’s no way with our restrained budgets that we have any room to even consider those things without the help of the government,” he said.

The rest of the spaces are in Saskatoon, Regina and Swift Current.

The funding comes from the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Agreement.

Since its signing in March of this year, it’s allocated 1200 child care spots in the province.