Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
The school district is collecting information on childcare needs on Gabriola Island as well as in Cedar and Yellowpoint.
A Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools survey is open now through September 1 and is meant to help identify childcare needs for both school-aged children as well as children from newborn to five years old. The online survey link is www.surveymonkey.com/r/G8CPJG6.
District principal of early learning and care, Diane McGonigle, said NLPS is targeting Gabriola, Cedar and Yellowpoint because of their geographical locations and distance from other areas of the district.
“At this point in time, the survey is to gather the level of need in various areas of our district to help us in planning for potential applications for new spaces,” McGonigle said. “In addition, we will share the information with other partners who may be in a position to offer childcare opportunities.”
In some areas of the district, programs supported by provincial government funds operate in schools and childcare spaces are leased in school buildings to licensed providers.
A pilot at École Hammond Bay and Pleasant Valley Elementary for before and after school childcare run by the district begins in September.
McGonigle said the survey for Gabriola, Cedar and Yellowpoint is not related to the scope of that pilot program.
“At this point in time, we do not have plans to expand childcare offered by the district until the completion and full review of the pilot project,” McGonigle said.
NLPS’s 2021-31 long-range facilities plan includes a recommendation to create a strategy to expand childcare to all sites in NLPS for ages 0-5 years as well as before- and after-school care with the goal of providing a “seamless” transition for families and to connect pre-K children to schools.
The 2020 Gabriola Health Report identified there were 15 childcare spaces on the island for children aged two-and-a-half to five years, 20 licensed group spaces for one-and-a-half to five years and 58 after school spaces for ages five-plus.
In 2021, a Regional District of Nanaimo-commissioned report called the Mid-Island Region Childcare Action Plan outlined targets for childcare spaces in the regional district by 2030. Targets were based on best practices in the European Union and Quebec.
The report recommended that about 32 per cent of those new spaces should go to electoral areas.
Electoral Areas A (Cedar, South Wellington, Yellowpoint, Cassidy), B (Gabriola, Mudge, DeCourcy) and C (Extension, Nanaimo Lakes, East Wellington, Pleasant Valley) specifically would need 443 new spaces within the next 10 years to reach targets of between 50 and 75 spaces per 100 children under the age of nine, the report says.
The survey is available through the school district web site. Click here.