By Kathy Yanchus, REVIEW STAFF
Our Lady of Mount Carmel School’s licensed childcare centre is one of three sites being recommended for retrofitting, to make use of space availability as four- and five-year-olds transfer to full-day kindergarten.
The Ministry of Education has allocated capital funds to the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board – and others across the province – to “re-purpose” certain school-based childcare centres to accommodate younger children, from newborn to 3.8 (JK age). Currently, the minimum age is 2.5 years at OLMC. Before and after school care programs will not be affected.
“The Ministry is committing funds towards a movement to utilize space in the schools to ensure that there is childcare accessibility and that it’s coordinated for all children in our care and in our system,” said superintendent of education Ivana Fortino, at a meeting of the HWCDSB’s committee of the whole on Feb. 5.
The board had to submit recommendations to the Ministry by Feb. 8, which included two other sites where there are existing childcare centres, St. David and St. Marguerite D’Youville.
“In reviewing the needs of that area with the city of Hamilton there’s definitely an identified need to continue to create a hub for children in that area,” said Fortino.
Almost $3 million in funding has been allocated by the Ministry for this purpose to be spent by August 31, 2015.
“The main objective is seamlessness for all children in the school.”
Repurposing of the classroom is governed by the Day Nurseries Act in terms of the specific requirements for a classroom space for that age group, which includes staffing, said Fortino.
Other necessary changes might be more washrooms and changetables, plus any other safety precautions that need to be put in place, she added.