A medically integrated early learning centre and respite child-care facility may be the future use of the Prince Albert Family Church property, at 550 First Ave. E.
This is golden news for pastor Glen Stead, not only because of the potential sale but because it’s in keeping with the church’s mandate of bettering the community.
“The interesting thing is, we were thinking of doing the same thing with the building,” he said of Hope’s Home’s intentions. “That was our vision for the city.”
The Prince Albert-centred Hope’s Home project will be made up of a few components, the Regina-based organization’s executive director Jacqueline Tisher said.
The child-care centre component was a no-brainer, she said.
“We all know there’s a need for day care, because that’s a provincial problem,” she said. “That’s nothing new. We are integrated, so we offer not just for medical children but kids from the community.”
The projected capacity for the child-care centre will be 90 children, aged six weeks to 12 years old.
In addition to an early learning centre and administrative use, the building will also include a maximum of eight beds for 24-hour transition/respite care for medically fragile children -- an effort Tisher has noted a significant need for in the Prince Albert area.
A meeting with a local pediatric group resulted in 46 referrals for respite and child-care service through the local health region, and an additional 17 through social services.
“Then this building came up for sale,” Tisher said.
“We as an organization started to work with the community, talking to health, talking to education and social services as to how we can partner and expand the services, because it’s quite a huge need up in Prince Albert. I was quite surprised.”
Prince Albert is unique, in that it carries a wide catchment of medical patients, with the city serving as not only gateway to the north but in all directions.
These people need respite care for their children, Tisher said, adding that many people underestimate how much work caring for medically fragile children can be.
“We have families … that have never been away from their child in 14 years,” she said. “Can you imagine? Every day and every night, you can’t just drop them off with somebody.”
We all know there’s a need for day care, because that’s a provincial problem. That’s nothing new. We are integrated, so we offer not just for medical children but kids from the community. - Hope's Home executive director Jacqueline Tisher
Even just a weekend now and then will help save families, she said.
“Parents will go on and crisis manage, and stress, stress, stress, stress, and then something will break down.
“And then what happens is those children will end up placed in the ministry, and they’re very difficult to place in foster homes because of their level of care, so they end up living in nursing homes, as early as two-year-olds.”
Purchase conditions for the property should be lifted on Dec. 21, Tisher said, if reports on the property come back in their favour.
“We look forward to Prince Albert, and lord willing, everything will come through in the next month and we will be looking forward to opening in March.”
With a child-care centre already operating in the building, renovations will be pretty much limited to accommodating children with medical needs.
Last week, city council approved the re-zoning of 550 First Ave. E. to ensure Hope’s Home is able to provide their services at the building.
The Prince Albert Family Church is beginning to transition into their new building on Central Avenue -- the old Co-op grocery store, which will house various stores, a cafeteria, gymnasium, conference centre, church, and a K-12 school, among other things.
“The old Co-op is progressing,” Stead said, adding that the transition between the old building and the new will be seamless, with departments moving over as their section of the building is completed.
The first will be their child-care centre, which Stead said is pretty well done, and is set to open “very early in the new year.”
The entire building is still on-track for a mid-2013 grand opening.
Hope’s Home is based in Regina, with more information available about the organization on its website, www.hopeshome.org.