Shane Simpson, B.C.s Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, plays with kids at the Kelowna YMCA Friday following his announcement of more money for to train early childhood educators.—Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Updated: More early childhood educator positions created

Announcement in Kelowna for a new work experience project at the YMCA

B.C.’s social development minister says parents and families in the Kelowna area will benefit from the addition of up to 12 new early childhood educator assistant positions, to be created through a government-funded work experience project.

Shane Simpson said Friday the new positions will work one-on-one with children of all abilities, support the varying needs of the children, and allow more children to be included in the child-care setting in a program that is being allotted $123,000.

The YMCA of Okanagan created the project in response to an urgent need for qualified assistants to work alongside early childhood educators. The project, in a second iteration, gives participants 15 weeks of skills training, followed by six weeks of on-the-job work experience with local employers who are eager to train – and potentially hire – the successful ECE assistants.

Last year eight people were trained in a similar program funded by the government and run by the YMCA , and all the graduates are now working in childcare centres.

“As our government creates more affordable, quality child-care spaces in B.C., we will see a high demand for trained early childhood educators and assistants,” said Simpson who made the announcement at the Kelowna Family YMCA Friday morning.

He said additional measures to create more childcare spaces will be coming in the B.C. budget, scheduled to be handed down in late February.

“Through this project, the participants will develop the skills needed to help them build a brighter future and families throughout the region will benefit by having more qualified professionals to care for their children,” he added.

News of more money to help train early childhood educators was welcomed by the YMCA, which opened a large childcare centre in Kelowna last year and plans to open another one in the city next year, along with one in Penticton.

“At the YMCA, we know that supported families are healthy families. Child-care programs led by qualified staff play an important role in the healthy development of children and are critical to support working families in B.C. We believe this contribution from the Government of B.C. is a good investment in both children and in job seekers,” said Sharon Peterson, CEO, YMCA of Okanagan.

The organization, along with others such as the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club, say it is currently very hard to find qualified early childhood educators, so any help the government can give to train more is welcomed.

The government money for the project project was provided through the Job Creation Partnerships stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships program. CEP funds projects that increase employability levels and share labour market information.

“Our greatest challenge in providing early years programs is finding qualified staff to deliver services. With recent investments in expanded child-care spaces in our region, this issue will continue to increase. Initiatives such as this are important to try to address this staffing shortage in the Okanagan,” said Jeremy Welder, director of operations, Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs.

Simpson, who will also attend a poverty reduction strategy meeting to be held in Kelowna later this afternoon from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion on Bertram Street in Kelowna. The meeting is one of 28 being held across the province as the government works to have a poverty reduction plan for B.C. in place before the end of the year.

Simpson said the meetings are hearing directly from the homeless, the working poor and stakeholders involved in efforts to reduce poverty in the province.

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Children playing in the YMCA’s child and family centre. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

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