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Safe school, more services coming to Saanich children’s centre

Safe school, more services coming to Saanich children’s centre

June 26, 2019 at 3:15 pm  BC, News, Politics

A new, seismically safe facility is on the way for children and families benefiting from the Children’s Development Centre in Cordova Bay, along with additional support services.

“The Children’s Development Centre and its Alternate Learning Program are a vital resource for children in Saanich, and we’re making sure students and staff can benefit from it for decades to come,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “This unique facility serves some of the most vulnerable students in Saanich and we’re acting to ensure they have the modern, safe school they deserve.”

The Government of B.C. is providing $3.7 million for a full replacement of the Children’s Development Centre, as well as adding a new neighbourhood learning centre that will offer mental health supports for youth and families on-site. The new facility will house both the Children’s Development Centre and the Alternate Learning Program. The Saanich Board of Education will contribute $500,000 to the project. 

“Programs at the Children’s Development Centre have made positive, impactful changes in the lives of countless students throughout our community,” said Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South. “A brand new, safe facility is a welcome addition to Saanich, and I’m thrilled to see it being improved so it can continue to give our students the supports they need.”

The Children’s Development Centre and Alternate Learning Program support elementary and middle school students who have difficulties in traditional school settings. Students attend the centre for a 20-week school experience designed to support social and emotional growth, while preparing them to reintegrate into their neighbourhood schools and continue their education. 

As a flexible setting, the new neighbourhood learning centre will enable Beacon Community Services and the Saanich School District to jointly address and support changing community needs.

“By offering mental health supports at the Neighbour Learning Centre, we’re making it easier for students and their families to get all the help they need, when and where they need it,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Having mental health services available right on-site will help children, youth and their families access resources for prevention and early intervention.”

Students who attend the Children’s Development Centre are in kindergarten to Grade 5. Students who attend the Alternate Learning Program are in grades 6 to 8. Both programs run simultaneously at the Children’s Development Centre, with elementary students in the main building and middle school students in a portable. The replacement school will house both programs in a single, modern building.

Construction on the Children’s Development Centre is scheduled to begin in spring 2020 and is expected to be ready for students in September 2021. This allows for students to remain in the existing facility while the new school is built.

“With this investment, the Children’s Development Centre can continue to support the social and emotional growth of students and families in a facility that is functional and safe,” said Victoria Martin, chair, Saanich Board of Education. “We are delighted that, with an expanded facility, we are able to partner with Beacon Community Services who will deliver additional services to support families in the community.” 

This investment is part of government’s commitment to provide every B.C. student with a seismically safe place to go to school. Since September 2017, the Province has announced more than $1.4 billion in school capital projects, including $670 million for seismic projects at 36 schools, creating more than 21,200 safe student seats.

Budget 2019 provides a record $2.7 billion for school capital investments, including $791 million to continue accelerating the Seismic Mitigation Program.

Quick Facts:

  • The Children’s Development Centre is a 53-year-old school that was found, in 2018, to be at risk in an earthquake.
  • Children’s Development Centre staff also participate in outreach at Saanich elementary and middle schools to help build capacity and support students struggling with mental health.
  • The programs offered by Beacon Community Services at the Children’s Development Centre will be primarily funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and include programs to strengthen families, support youth, help with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder support and provide early years programming.
  • In addition, MCFD staff are often at the Alternate Learning Program to connect with students. MCFD also funds programming through Beacon Community Services, which supports many of the same children and parents who attend the Childhood Development Centre’s programs.
  • Seismic upgrades and an addition are also underway at Keating Elementary in Saanich.

Learn More:

For more information about the Children’s Development Centre and the Saanich School District’s Alternative Learning Program: https://www.sd63.bc.ca/about-us/our-schools/childrens-development-centre

For more information about Beacon Community Services: https://beaconcs.ca/

For more information about major capital projects at B.C. schools:

For more information about the Seismic Mitigation Program:

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