The Cariboo Childcare Society wins award for outstanding leadership

The on-campus child care centre has been recognized by the province for its role in facilitating early education

Marian Hardy, executive director of the Caribou Childcare Society (Aidan Grether/The Omega)

TRU’s on-campus child care centre has been awarded a provincial award for outstanding leadership in early child development.

The Cariboo Childcare Society are the recipients of the 2018 Child Care Award of Excellence from the B.C. government for their exceptional efforts in facilitating early learning.

The daycare centre is one of four child care providers in British Columbia that have been chosen to be the recipients of this year’s award.

According to B.C. Government, the award gives recognition to early learning and care professionals (ECL) who exhibit excellence in “working collaboratively with others [and] creating cultural safety through culturally competent practice and inclusion of Indigenous language, culture and traditions.”

Additionally, the provincial award takes into consideration whether ECL professionals create an environment for inclusion and diversity to flourish while supporting local efforts and the further advancement of excellence in early learning.

“The Cariboo Child Care Society is receiving one of this year’s provincial awards, in part because of its innovative partnership with Thompson Rivers University,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development in a press release.

“This partnership allows students who are studying to become early childhood educators to gain real-life, hands-on experience with kids while learning from experienced child care providers,” she added.

Speaking to The Omega, Marian Hardy, executive director of the Cariboo Child Care Society, admitted that although they ran a good programme, she was still very surprised they won an award because the competition between child care centres in the province is “fierce”.

“I was really pleased on behalf of all the staff to receive this award. The fact that it’s nice to get that actual provincial recognition—it’s too bad every educator doesn’t get that,” she said.

Hardy said that currently there is a shortage in space in daycare centres and qualified educators in Kamloops and throughout the province.

“Our programmes are full, we have seventy-four children a day. We have twelve infant spaces, twelve toddler spaces, then fifty spaces for children ages three to five,” she said. “We are full, so our waitlists were extensive even before we had the recognition from the province.”

Elaborating on the benefits of early child care, Hardy said there are mutual advantages for both parents and their children.

This is because parents can feel relaxed and secure to know that when they are working, their children are in a productive and safe environment.

“The children come first. We nurture them, we watch them grow and they have experiences in outside play in different activities. There’s also a lot of interaction and we really focus on the social and emotional development of children,” she explained.

Addressing the Cariboo Society’s relationship with TRU, Marian said the centre does receive some funding from student fees.

“We do receive some funding through the students’ levy and that goes to support students,” she said. “Like over the summer [children] can pull out when they’re not going to school and it saves their space for September.”

She also mentioned the connection the daycare has with TRU’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) Department because the centre acts as a lab site for ECE students.

“They come over and get practical experience as well as our staff go to their classrooms and give them background information.”

Having served the Kamloops community for forty-five years, The Cariboo Childcare Society prides itself on providing support for early child development to the staff and students of TRU as well as families from among the local community.