Prince Albert daycare receiving more spots

Jodi Schellenberg
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With so many families requiring both parents working to survive but lack of daycare spaces, hearing that there will soon be more spots available may come as a relief.

Children’s Choice Child Development Centre in Prince Albert will be receiving 40 new spaces to be put in before March 2015.

With the funding, executive director Gail Szautner said they will be opening a new daycare space at St. Francis School in the Crescent Acres area of town.

“It is huge because there are no licensed childcare facilities in that area of town at all -- all the way from Marquis Road to the River, that whole east end side of town there is nothing,” she said.

The daycare, which has about 191 spots in different locations throughout the city, is already developing a waiting list for the new facility.

Although many daycares may focus on just keeping the children busy throughout the day, giving them toys and games to play with, Children’s Choice is a little bit unique. The facilitators use the play and exploration technique, giving the kids the ability to learn independence.

During meal, the children get to serve themselves instead of the caregivers serving them. Szautner said it helps build their self-confidence and self esteem.

“There is nothing more fantastic than watching a two-and-a-half-year old pour their own milk,” she said. “The look on their face is (priceless).”

Everything the facilitators do is based around one question, “Why am I doing this?” and the answer is “well because it is promoting good strong healthy child development,” Szautner said.

Not only do they give the children independence and follow their lead, the caretakers also give them unique play items instead of the usual plastic toys.

“You don’t hear or see kids fighting or having temper tantrums because when our program is developmentally appropriate and we are focused on meeting the needs of every individual child, this is the result,” Szautner said. “Children are respected and valued and it is shown in the way we interact with them and interact with one another.

“We make sure we give them the positive reinforcement that they need and that way they don’t have to exhibit negative behaviour to get our attention.”

Instead of putting working on crafts, the daycare has a different approach -- open-ended art, where the children work on pieces that are later displayed.

“We frame up the art because it is important to let children know we value what they do and it is beautiful -- it is not fridge art,” Szautner said. “When we frame it up and display it that way, again that builds their self confidence and self-esteem because they see their work is valued. They know they did that and it is hung up where everyone can admire.”

Those interested in registered their children will have to wait until winter since there are renovations to work on before the daycare in St. Francis can open. It should be opened in the 2014-15 school year and before March of next year.

Szautner cannot wait for the new daycare to be opened when it is ready.

“There is a huge need in that part of town,” she said. “It is one of the fasting growing parts of the city and the majority of people living there or building there are families with young children so it just makes sense that there needs to be something over there.”

The need for more childcare spaces in Saskatchewan

According to Gail Szautner, the executive director for Children’s Choice Child Development Centres, there has always been a need in the province for more childcare spaces.

In Saskatchewan there are licensed childcare spots for 7.6 per cent of the children from babies to 12 year olds.

Since 2007, the government has invested in increased the daycare spots by about 500 each year. This year they have invested another $2.2 million to increase spots by another 500.

There are now about 14,200 spots in Saskatchewan, an increase of 53 per cent in the last seven years, according to the Ministry of Education.

This year funding was provided to the following communities for more spaces: Christopher Lake, Lumsden, Prince Albert, Regina, Sandy Bay, Saskatoon, St. Isodore-de-Bellevue, Swift Current, Wakaw, Warman and White City.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Francis School, Ministry of Education

Geographic location: Crescent Acres, Marquis Road, Saskatchewan Christopher Lake Sandy Bay Saskatoon Swift Current White City

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