NORTH DELTA â€” Families in North Delta will soon be able to take advantage of a comprehensive early learning program for pre-school children.
Located at the North Delta Recreation Centre â€” currently under extensive renovations â€” the Reach Child and Youth Development Society will host the Deltakids BC Early Years Centre (EYC) to improve the access and availability of services and supports for families with young children.
The site is one of a dozen new centres province-wide to receive $52,000 from the Ministry of Children and Family Development as part of a three-year $5.5 million investment. The project is in partnership with Reach, the Corporation of Delta, the Delta School District, Fraser Health and the Delta Kids Committee, which includes organizations supporting children throughout Delta.
Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Stephanie Cadieux, who is also minister of children and family development, said the site will be a "one-stop location" where families can connect with community, and easily access information and support around parenting and early childhood development. Reach has special supports in place for children with developmental or physical disabilities.
"When you’ve got a child and you’re a new parent, that’s stressful enough," she said. "That’s challenging enough to learn about what’s available to you, what you should be doing, how you handle different situations. But if you have a child with disability, it’s that much more stressful and difficult."
Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Stephanie Cadieux speaks at the opening of the Deltakids BC Early Years Centre in North Delta as Mayor Lois Jackson looks on. (Photo: ADRIAN MACNAIR)
Delta North MLA Scott Hamilton, who was a member of Delta Council until March of 2014, said the project is part of a provincial commitment to make life easier for families and ensure young children get the support they need to reach their full potential. He said its location in North Delta has been cited as an area where the largest number of children aged zero to five reside.
"It’s a neighbourhood that’s under-serviced with programs for families with young children and a neighbourhood where childhood vulnerability, which is measured at kindergarten, are the highest in Delta. So, we’re in the right place."
Mayor Lois Jackson said the centre was due in large part to Renie D’Aquila, executive director for Reach, who has been trying to create something like the EYC in North Delta for decades.
"She and I stood out here some, I don’t know, thirty-some years ago, Renie, I don’t know how long ago it was," said Jackson, laughing. "It was a long time ago but we had a vision."
Jackson said one of Delta’s goals in the rec centre expansion was to amalgamate existing programs and services that were already on site, including Reach, the Watershed Artworks Gallery, and Delta Potters Guild. The rec centre expansion will include a 6,000 square foot fitness centre, a gymnasium, expanded North Delta municipal business centre, and art and recreation spaces.
Mayor Lois Jackson speaks at the opening of the Deltakids BC Early Years Centre in North Delta as Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Stephanie Cadieux and Reach Child and Youth Development Society president Rob VanSpronsson look on. (Photo: ADRIAN MACNAIR)
The EYC is scheduled to move into the renovated space by June of 2015, where they will offer new drop-in programs and developmental screenings for families, along with literacy programs for young children. Parent workshops will also be organized, and families will be introduced to other community resources including the George Mackie Library and the Family Resource Programs.
The Deltakids centre is a pilot project in partnership with the B.C. Early Years Strategy to implement a network of EYCs throughout B.C. in the coming years.