Two months after a daycare first opened in Fort Smith’s recreation centre, the town is celebrating its impact on the community.
In April, town council voted unanimously to create a childcare centre following “an overwhelming demand from community residents.” The facility first opened to children in July and was hailed as a success by the town on Tuesday.
The motion passed by councillors in the spring also added several childcare staff and created an advisory board of interested residents, a news release this week stated.
The childcare centre, which has not been named, offers preschool care to 16 children aged two to five, as well as after-school care to an additional 20 children.
It is staffed by qualified early childcare educators and is open from 8am to 5pm. Snacks and lunch are provided at the daycare, which costs $65 per day for children in the full-day program.
“Town residents have long identified childcare as a priority for our community and lack of childcare spaces has been a barrier to local economic development and attracting new residents,” said Mayor Lynn Napier.
In response to the town opening the daycare, the Fort Smith Day Care Society has disbanded.
“We are so excited to watch this program grow knowing we were such a big part of its vision,” said former society president Katie McNab in a Facebook post.
“We are ready to pass the torch and really encourage community members who are still interested in supporting local childcare programs to join the Town of Fort Smith Childcare Advisory Board.”
The Fort Smith Day Care Society has spent the past five years trying to bring more daycare spaces to the community.
In December 2018, the society announced a partnership with the town to offer eight spaces.
This past June, education minister RJ Simpson announced Fort Smith and Norman Wells would be prioritized for a new $1.1-million program designed to increase childcare spaces through new facilities or retrofitting of existing buildings.
Fort Smith is in the opening stages of renovating its community centre over the next year at a cost of $4 million.
To register a child in the new childcare centre, residents can contact the town at (867) 872-4732.