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Incredible community effort: Assiniboia unites to bring a new daycare to life

Golden South Childcare Centre in Assiniboia is closer to reality thanks to a group of mothers choosing to commit to bringing their vision to reality, dedicating many hours to the process necessary to make this happen

ASSINIBOIA — Childcare shortages are experienced in many Saskatchewan communities but thanks to a dedicated core group of mothers who saw a need for additional childcare options in Assiniboia, the progress on Golden South Childcare Centre continues.

Nicole Batty, co-chair of the volunteer board said, “This project was started by a group of mothers who were all struggling with childcare. At our first ‘meeting’ we all shared the struggles we were having finding secure childcare in Assiniboia. After listening to each other’s experiences, we determined that the scope of this issue was much larger than our personal struggles. After that initial meeting, we took it upon ourselves to address this gap in services for the community.”

Batty says the group has been working on this project since April of 2022 and following their initial meeting, they got to work incorporating as a non-profit organization.  Recruiting a board of directors came next followed quicky by fundraising for the new centre.

Countless volunteer hours from the ten-member volunteer board, who are all working moms, continue to see their dream to reality vision come to fruition.

While the current projection for renovation costs, supplies and initial operating expenses is set at just over $370,000, Batty said they fully expect this goal to change as construction begins.

Two years of fundraising have occurred and the group is pleased to have $148,000 towards that goal.  Community and corporate support have been acknowledged by the group for the success of the fundraising efforts thus far.  Sponsorship packages were created and RM of Lake of the Rivers and Southland Coop Batty said were part of their diamond sponsorship while they are also grateful for the Platinum sponsorship from Assiniboia Kinsmen, who continues their mandate of ‘serving the community’s greatest needs’.

The St. Lawrence & St. Boniface Anglican Church on 5th Ave. west was purchased and the decommissioning began at the start of 2023. 

“Members of the local congregation advocated for our project and provided all the assistance they could. We were only able to take this huge step and purchase our future facility thanks to their support,” adds the Golden South Childcare Centre board.

Childcare demand in Assiniboia is high

Batty also states, “The Ministry of Education will have to approve our license before this becomes official but we are applying for 32 childcare spaces. There are many regulations around licensed childcare spaces, including specific square footage and staffing requirements, so these are the maximum spaces that will fit in our facility.”

A community survey in the fall of 2022 had responses from 55 families that 87 children were in need of childcare in the Assiniboia, so these 32 spaces doesn’t even full the demand.

“With a community of Assiniboia’s size, it’s safe to assume the actual demand is even higher than this,” affirms Batty.

The board and volunteers are excited with the progress, including the announcement in October that they would be one of 41 recipients of Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.  The funding from this agreement is intended for the construction costs needs to meet building and licensing codes, with the board remaining hopeful these funds will be enough to renovate their facility.

Golden South Childcare Centre is currently waiting for approval of their building permit and then will ask local tradespeople to submit tenders, once permit is approved. 

Board hopeful for fall of 2024 opening

Batty says that once work begins, they believe they will become operational by the fall of 2024.

Gratefulness from funding received comes with hopefulness for continued support as the group still needs to fundraise for equipment, supplies, toys and other necessities needed for the new childcare centre. Board members are currently looking for toys, books, highchairs, baby gates, monitors, unused art supplies, step stools, play structures such as kitchens and large storage containers.

“Our latest fundraiser, Ladies Night, was held on Jan. 13. We were thrilled to have over 200 local ladies join us for an amazing evening that included Banger Bingo. We are projecting that the event raised over $8000 to go towards supplies and equipment so thank you to everyone who attended. We look forward to hosting the event again next year.” 

A testament to the industrious group, whose dream of a new childcare centre in Assiniboia, the vision is closer to reality.  Working parents in the community will soon have the benefit of a new childcare centre.  Thanks to continued community support this organization is one step closer to completion and as the saying goes, ‘teamwork makes the dream work’.