PHOTOS: Tour Kamloops' newest childcare centre

The newest childcare centre in Kamloops had its grand opening on Saturday and fees will be lower thanks to a partnership with the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Kamloops Kidz Early Learning Center's newest location in Orchards Walk will have 144 new licensed child care spaces in the recently completed $3.7 million building. The centre has been open since Jan. 2, with three classrooms currently running, so over 50 of those spots have already been filled. 

This is Kamloops Kidz fourth child care centre in the city and second one built from scratch. 

"This one's a little different because I've been doing it a little bit longer, so I know what's required more than maybe I did a few years back, " says Sandra Jodoin, owner and administrator of Kamloops Kidz Early Learning Center. "There's just more research that has gone into this one as well because more time has passed and I know what I want."

"I like the hallways in the middle because it's a little more like a school atmosphere, so when they do go to school, they're comfortable with that. And then there's a lot of storage here. In early childhood, there's never enough storage so that's kind of a big thing too."

Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care, was on hand today for the ceremony after the provincial government contributed $250,000 to the centre through their Childcare BC New Spaces Fund. It's one of the many funding intiatives they've rolled out to deal with the lack of affordable child care spaces across the province and Chen says the response has been good so far.

"A lot of our funding initiatives are being used and providers are applying, parents are applying," she says. "Our fee reduction initiative, its close to about 90 per cent of providers in B.C that are already joining this program, so there's tens of thousands of families that are benefiting from it."

The Kamloops Kidz Early Learning Center has been approved for fee reduction, so parents whose children attend any of their locations are eligible to pay less; up to $350 a month. 

The Ministry is also running a pilot program in the city at the Kamloops Development Centre, where costs are capped at $200 a month. Chen says they are learning as they go and are curious to see if it is a viable option. 

"It's a universal healthcare-type of block funding to suit the provider, we partner with all different type of providers including private, non-profit, government, indigenous communities, supportive child development and family child care," she says. 

"So we're going to learn how they operate, how much it costs to run their operation, what are the challenges, how affordable child care benefits families and how much it will cost for us down the road to build a universal system. The 53 sites that we're piloting are going to bring us a lot of results and we can look into, how can we be fiscally responsible and what's the economic benefit for that?"

As for the new Kamloops Kidz Early Learning Center, Jodoin says they will be looking to open another classroom soon, targeting Feb. 1. There will be eight total classrooms with 44 spaces for infants and toddlers, 50 for children aged 30 months to school age and 50 for school-age kids. 

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