Erica Robinson and childcare worker Jane McKinnon play at Willow Creek Childcare

Childcare receives huge grant

Willow Creek Childcare is adding spaces to its childcare programs thanks to two provincial grants

A local childcare is looking forward to opening more much-needed childcare spots with grant money it will soon be receiving for a couple of projects.

Willow Creek Childcare, open for 10 years now at manager and co-owner Jennifer Maillet’s residence and in its new location since May 1 of this year at the former church on the corner of Park Ave. and Sparks St., will be getting about $450,000 in money from the provincial government to help provide more childcare spaces.

The B.C. government announced back in May it was giving out money for more childcare spaces as part of BC’s Early Years Strategy.

Non-profit childcare providers could apply for up to $250,000 to be used for building new facilities, renovating existing buildings and buying eligible equipment and the childcare provider had to kick in 25 per cent of the money itself.

Maillet said she applied for two grants of $250,000 – one grant to go to opening up more spaces at the childcare for children up to age six and renovations and the other grant for an after school program.

Willow Creek has been awarded $250,000 and $178,000 for both projects, respectively.

“I was shocked. She called me and I just started crying,” said Maillet about her response to the Ministry of Children and Family Development calling her to say Willow Creek had been chosen to receive the grant money. “Childcare is a passion and I basically operate like a non-profit.

The childcare increases its number of children to 36 and the after school program is for 48 children that Maillet takes care of at her own residence, that’s wheelchair accessible and a bus to pick up children so their parents don’t have to drop them off. Renovations are also in order for the building: doors, windows, insulation, bathrooms and upgrading of equipment.

Money that Willow Creek had to come up with itself comes in the form of in-kind with Maillet, her husband and family doing some of the work themselves and coming from the childcare’s monthly operating allowance.

Willow Creek has a waiting list and  people will see the bus and its driver and ask if their children can come to the childcare, said Maillet. “I’m hoping to create a childcare facility eventually owned by a society or group and create long-term spots like the college has,” she said referring to Northwest Community College.