SFU’s childcare touted as example of quality care during minister’s visit
By Jeff Hodson
B.C.’s minister of state for childcare toured the SFU Childcare Society Friday morning for a firsthand glance at a high-quality childcare facility as the new NDP government works toward building a new childcare system in the province.
“This has been an amazing experience,” said Katrina Chen, NDP MLA for Burnaby-Lougheed and SFU alumna. “This is where I went to school and I’m familiar with this community, but this is a little hidden gem.”
The province’s new NDP government is working on a 10-year plan to implement $10-a-day childcare and create 66,000 new spaces across B.C. Earlier this month, the government pledged $33 million to open 3,800 new childcare spaces.
“We’re working hard on bringing affordable, quality, accessible childcare to B.C.,” said Chen, a former Burnaby school trustee. “We’re putting together a new system that hopefully works for generations to come. I think SFU Childcare is really a great example -- especially on the quality part.”
The SFU Childcare Society, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, boasts a staff of 65 and cares for more than 300 children, ranging from infants to kids of school age with priority given to SFU students, staff, faculty, alumni and UniverCity residents.
The society has 15 programs in total; 12 at the main complex and three at UniverCity (seven for infant to toddler; five for children aged three to five; and three for school-aged kids) and is spread across four buildings at the main westside complex.
Saaiqa Bhanji, a senior educator within the society, led Chen on a tour of the Espuleta program (for children under three years) and the Nanitish program (for children aged three to five).
Pat Frouws, executive director of the SFU Childcare Society, said a focus of the tour, and subsequent meeting, was to showcase quality childcare and the challenges she faces, including funding and finding educators that meet the society’s standards.
“There’s affordability, there’s accessibility and there’s quality. We feel we’re positioned to influence and advocate for quality childcare,” said Frouws.