By Korie Marshall

There is a pressing need for daycare, preschool and childcare in McBride, but a new local business and some partnerships discussed at a recent meeting promise to fill some of those needs.

“The McBride Youth Committee is acting as an advocate for increased childcare options in McBride,” says Chair Jen Quam. She says she was very happy with the turnout to the meeting on Sept. 22nd. “There was a very diverse crowd made up of local educators, parents, grandparents, and professionals from the community.”

The Robson Valley Support Society received about 30 responses to a recent survey on childcare needs, says Executive Director Jill Craven. The society had to shut down the Stepping Stones Children’s Centre in McBride in July 2014, citing declining enrollment, increased costs and staffing issues as reasons for the closure.

“We’re still not in a position to run the daycare again,” says Craven, “but we are happy to provide space at minimal rent, and support to Marianne to grow the program if she wants.”

A licensed early childhood educator, Marianne Larmand recently moved to McBride with her husband, and will offer preschool three mornings a week starting in October. All eight spots she can offer were filled within an hour of her posting a notice on local social media.

Quam says the Youth Committee is happy Larmand will be filling part of the need for preschool, and organized the round table discussion to brainstorm possible solutions for other needs as well. One of the outcomes of the discussion is that the Youth Committee will work with the Child Care Resource and Referral Centre in Prince George to put on local information nights for interested childcare providers.

“It will be a ‘how to get started’ in a childcare business, either in a home or group setting,” says Quam.

“Licensing is not as big a hoop for quality homecare programs as some might think,” says Craven. “And there could be subsidies available for people who can’t afford childcare.”

Quam says the Youth Committee will also work with the Employment Program of BC, offered in McBride by Robson Valley Support Society, to see if there are training dollars available for any local people interested in pursuing their Early Childhood Education degree. The committee will also look into after school crafting opportunities, to help families who need care for children after school.