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Safer school with mental health supports opens in Saanich

Safer school with mental health supports opens in Saanich

September 2, 2021 at 1:03 pm  BC, News, Politics

Children and youth in the Saanich School District who need short-term, specialized educational support are moving into a new seismically safe school right in time for the school year.

“I’m so proud of the exceptional programming the Saanich Children’s Development Centre (CDC) offers to students who need mental health and other services, so they can return to their community school with the tools they need to succeed,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “Now, their families can be confident their children are receiving the education and support they need in a seismically safe and modern building.”

The CDC supports students in kindergarten to Grade 5. The Alternate Learning Program, housed in the same location, serves middle school students in grades 6 to 8. Both offer programming highly tailored to meet students’ needs. Approximately 16 students from local elementary and middle schools attend the CDC for 20-week intensive periods that include counselling and mental health supports. Its programs emphasize social and emotional learning, alongside literacy and numeracy.

“This new school will provide a safe, supportive environment that fosters student mental wellness,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “I’m grateful to Beacon Community Services and the Saanich School District for partnering on this project.”

The project also includes a neighbourhood learning centre. Beacon Community Services and the Saanich School District will provide mental health supports for children and families in the community at the centre. This includes early years programming, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder support and programs to help strengthen and nurture families. The programs offered by Beacon Community Services at the CDC will be primarily funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

“Access to mental health and early intervention supports is critical to helping children reach their full potential,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Now students and their families in Saanich will be able to get supports they need to find their pathway to success at a new, seismically safe school.” 

The Government of B.C. provided $3.7 million for the replacement of the 53-year-old CDC. The Saanich School District contributed $500,000 for the project.

In the past four years, the Government of B.C. has approved more than $1.2 billion in seismic upgrades or replacements at 58 schools provincewide, so more than 31,400 students can be better protected at school during an earthquake.

Budget 2021 includes almost $3.5 billion for school capital investments, including new and expanded schools, seismic upgrades and replacements, and site purchases to ensure land is in place to accommodate fast-growing communities throughout the province.

Quotes:

Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South –

“The programs at the Saanich CDC will make an enormous difference to children who are struggling in their community schools and get them back on the track to success. I’m so proud our government has built this new school and continues to champion student wellness.”

Tim Dunford, chair, Saanich Board of Education

“We are delighted to start the school year in a new building that is safe, and that we are able to further enhance programs supporting the social and emotional growth of students and families through a new partnership with Beacon Community Services.”

Carla Robinson, chair, board of directors, Beacon Community Services –

“We’re delighted to partner with School District 63 to support children and families’ well-being at the new neighbourhood learning centre. It’s exciting to see the doors open on a project that will make such a difference in children and families’ lives.”

Learn More:

To learn more about B.C.’s Seismic Mitigation Program, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/administration/capital/seismic-mitigation

For more information about major public school capital projects underway, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/administration/capital/major-capital-projects

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

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

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