A licenced childcare centre with two locations in Chilliwack has opened its doors to new families recently, especially those who work in essential services.
At the beginning of April, the YMCA rolled out its Essential Child Care program to parents and caregivers who have been left without childcare as as result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a collaboration with Province of B.C.
“Many of the YMCA’s programs are not at capacity right now as many families are following the advice of public health,” said Cathy Poole, vice president of children and youth services at the YMCA of Greater Vancouver. “We are opening up childcare spots where they are available to any parent or caregiver who may need child care during the pandemic, and giving special priority to those who are essential service workers.”
The YMCA of Greater Vancouver currently has more than 19 ‘Early Years Child Care’ locations, plus 39 ‘Before and After School Child Care’ programs. That includes two in Chilliwack: Elm Drive Child Care Centre for children aged six months to five years, and a before- and after-school program for school-aged children at Little Mountain elementary.
All before- and after-school programs have expanded to offer full-day care under the new COVID-19 program.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is encouraging parents who can care for their children to do so at home.
Because of the number of childcare spots that have opened up due to children staying at home, both YMCA childcare locations in Chilliwack currently have vacancies. Altogether, there are a total of 32 spots available in Chilliwack for school-aged children, preschoolers (ages three to five) and infants/toddlers (ages six months to three years).
“There are 24 school-age spaces for essential service workers [at Little Mountain], and four toddler and four [age] three to five spaces at Elm Drive,” Poole said.
“Since the pandemic began, the YMCA has been committed to continuing to provide childcare as an essential service to families in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Sunshine Coast,” Poole said. “By collaborating with the Province of B.C., the YMCA will be able to continue to provide childcare services, expand our program hours and help more families in need during this pandemic.”
Additionally, since March 13, the YMCA has implemented a number of increased health measures, like daily health screenings and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, so that childcare could continue operating.
Currently, the YMCA of Greater Vancouver has registered more than 40 children of essential service workers across all of its programs. They are not operating a full capacity as they are trying to ensure instructors and children can practise physical distancing as best they can.
To apply for YMCA Essential Child Care, or for more info, go to gv.ymca.ca/child-care.
The YMCA also has a financial assistance program for those who need help with childcare costs.