Construction on the replacement of the Children’s Development Centre in Saanich has begun as the facility is receiving upgrades to become seismically safe.
In addition to the seismic upgrades, children and youth in the Saanich School District will have access to an expanded offering of mental health resources as the centre will be deploying new programs in that space.
“So many students will continue to benefit from the unique, tailored programs at Saanich Children’s Development Centre, now in a seismically safe, modern and inspiring learning environment,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “That’s why we’re taking action to prioritize safe and supportive learning environments for B.C. students.”
The Government of B.C. is providing $3.7 million for a full replacement of the Children’s Development Centre, which will also be home to the district’s Alternate Learning Program.
The Saanich Board of Education says it will also be contributing an additional $500,000 to the project.
“The Children’s Development Centre offers vital programs for children and youth who are struggling in our community,” said Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South. “I’m thrilled these students will soon be supported in a seismically safe building and a modern setting that’s designed to help them learn and grow.”
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The project also includes the addition of a Neighbourhood Learning Centre, which will provide a new space for Beacon Community Services and the Saanich School District to offer expanded mental health supports for children and families in the community.
“Every child is unique. We want to ensure the right services are in place to meet their specific needs – whether that’s helping them with learning challenges, mental health issues or connecting them to family counselling or specific therapies if they have extra-support needs,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “By offering a range of supports in one location, we can surround children and their families with a community of caring, giving them access to the help they need, when they need it.”
The programs offered by Beacon Community Services at the facility will be primarily funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), which includes programs to strengthen families, support youth, provide fetal alcohol spectrum disorder support and early years programming.
In addition, MCFD staff are often at the Alternate Learning Program supporting students.
The Alternate Learning Program is designed for middle school students.
“This new centre’s mental health services will support the well-being of young people and families in the community,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “The pandemic has added immense pressure on students, so more than ever, B.C.’s young people need quick access to supports. That’s exactly what this centre will do.”
The students who attend the Children’s Development Centre are between Kindergarten and Grade 5. The government says these students are ones who find a traditional school setting does not always meet their needs.
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 to continue their education.
With construction underway, the replacement facility will open its doors to students, families and staff in September 2021.
The Children’s Development Centre is a 53-year-old facility that was found to be at risk in an earthquake back in 2018.