The Westbank First Nation has opened its new Early Years Centre.
While the WFN has operated early years programs for children under an integrated model for more than 30 years, it only recently received provincial recognition through an organization consisting of representatives from the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, Kelowna Métis Society, Okanagan Nation Alliance, and Westbank First Nation.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development is the centre’s primary supporter, and the centre is now one of approximately 50 early years centres recognized across B.C.
“Westbank First Nation is proud to receive recognition as a provincial early years centre,” said Westbank First Nation Chief Roxanne Lindley. “Our younger members are the future of our nation, and (the WFN) council is committed to expanding the programs and services available for our babies, parents, and children.”
On Friday, the new centre opened in the WFN’s Youth Centre. It was formerly housed in the WFN’s health and wellness building
The early years centre runs six programs and works in partnership with approximately 20 organizations. Programs include family programming, supported child and infant development, after school programs, and spring and summer camps. Programs emphasize fun, development goals and nutrition, and follow the prescribed mandates of Head Start and provincial early years programs.
The WFN says its new, central location allows for enhanced programming and more space for children to play.
Supporting the centre’s programs are eight full-time employees, one permanent part-time employee, one casual employee, four summer students, and four childcare providers.
“Our vision for the future is to have a facility that houses all of our early years programs and services in a culturally safe environment, including daycare and preschool, as well as a space to provide ancillary services on site,” said manager, Margaret Eli.
“Moving to our new location is an exciting step toward fulfilling that vision.”