Winlaw children now have a great place to call their own. Seven students aged Kindergarten to Grade 5 have been enrolled in Our Place After School Care at Winlaw Elementary since January of this year, and families and educators are already giving the program rave reviews.

“My kids love attending Winlaw Our Place After School Care as they get to stay with their friends in a fun, positive environment after their school day,” said Marie-Josee Bourgeois, whose son and daughter used to have to ride a bus for more than 45 minutes to attend after-school care in another facility.

“I am thrilled to be the care provider for Our Place at Winlaw Elementary. Not only do I see firsthand the wonderful advantages for families that onsite after school care provides, but as the StrongStart Educator for the Slocan Valley, I am able to extend the relationships I have made with children during their preschool years into the care at Our Place. These established connections create a rich group dynamic and fabulous backdrop for learning, discovery, safety and togetherness,” said Early Learning Care Provider Pati McLaughlin.

Our Place is part of the Seamless Day Kindergarten pilot program. The program was initiated by the Province of B.C. in 2019 and began in four B.C. elementary schools. It has now expanded to 21 schools including Winlaw Elementary. Seamless Day programs allow Early Childhood Educators to work alongside classroom teachers during the school day, and to provide high-quality before and after school care within the same Kindergarten classroom setting. With minimum transition for the students and team collaboration for the educators, students can excel in all aspects of their development.

“Lack of childcare in the Slocan Valley has been a real challenge for families. There has been a weight lifted off our shoulders since Winlaw Our Place After School Care has been open, as we know that our children are finally enjoying attending after school care. And, we have the peace of mind knowing that they no longer need to travel,” said Bourgeois.

Our Place After School Care, Kindergarten and other early childhood support services operate in Winlaw Elementary School with financial support from the Ministry of Education and Columbia Basin Trust. These programs are part of the Government of British Columbia’s 10-year Childcare BC plan, as the province works to build an inclusive universal childcare system that meets growing childcare needs in B.C. communities.