A new, seismically safe school with expanded mental health resources will soon open its doors in Saanich.
Construction is underway on the replacement of the Children’s Development Centre, expected to open in September. In 2018, the 53-year-old centre was found to be at risk in the event of an earthquake.
“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 Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside. “That’s why we’re taking action to prioritize safe and supportive learning environments for B.C. students.”
The B.C. government 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 is contributing an additional $500,000 to the project.
“We are delighted to continue supporting the social and emotional growth of students and families in a new building that is safe and that we are able to further enhance programs through a new partnership with Beacon Community Services,” said Tim Dunford, Saanich Board of Education chair.
The new centre on Cordova Bay Road will be for students in kindergarten to Grade 5, many whose needs are not always met through a traditional school setting. 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. The Alternate Learning Program is designed for middle school students.
“The Children’s Development Centre offers vital programs for children and youth who are struggling in our community,” said Saanich South MLA Lana Popham. “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.”
The project also includes the addition of a Neighbourhood Learning Centre. The centre will provide new space for Beacon Community Services and the Saanich School District to provide mental health supports for children and families in the community.
The programs offered by Beacon Community Services at the facility will be primarily funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. This includes programs to strengthen families, support youth, provide fetal alcohol spectrum disorder support and early years programming.
“This is an exciting partnership,” said Carla Robinson, chair of the Beacon Community Services board of directors. “We’re looking forward to opening up the new Neighbourhood Learning Centre and helping build a brighter future for local children and families.”
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