Exceptional childcare – nurtured by nature

History

The history of operations of the Kamloops Child Development Centre dates back to May 17, 1967, when it was operated under the Societies Act as the Central Interior Neurological Association. At that time, the main focus of the operation was to distribute information and provide therapeutic services to children who were neurologically impaired or diagnosed as having cerebral palsy.

In 1973, an extensive survey of the medical community in Kamloops clearly indicated a broader focus was required for children with special needs prior to entering the formal school system. The physicians surveyed felt existing therapy services within the community were adequate but lacking in the areas of preschool experiences for children with special needs. A capital grant was received from the Province of BC to provide for the purchase, remodelling and equipment for the centre, which was then located on Pleasant Street, to meet the Provincial Community Care Facilities licensing board requirements to operate as a preschool for children. A comprehensive preschool program was put in place at that time beginning with seven children with special needs.

On July 26, 1976, the Kamloops Child Development Society was incorporated pursuant to the Societies Act of BC and is the governing body under which the Centre continues to operate.

Initially, the programs were only for children with a special-needs diagnosis but the growing demand for preschool services soon convinced the board of directors and administration an integrated program would enhance the quality of the service for all children. This concept formed the basis for normal experiences in preparation for introduction to the regular school system. Support structures were established with School District #24 personnel to facilitate the eventual transition to the regular school programs.

The Pleasant Street facility was destroyed by fire at the end of 1979. The program continued, in spite of the loss of the building, by utilising space in the Indian Residential School for the next three years while plans were underway for a new facility. The new facility was opened in January of 1983.

The new centre was designed with children as the focal point and at that time boasted state-of-the-art features to promote independence and skill development of special-needs children. In addition, the facility allowed for unobtrusive observation by parents, staff and consultants to witness every aspect of the programs without disturbing the natural flow or quality of the work in progress. This open-door policy extends to all members of the community who wish to know how the centre operates.

In 1983, the Kamloops Child Development Centre Building Society was incorporated for the express purpose of providing for future expansion, maintenance, property acquisition and management of existing facilities.

Over the years, hundreds of volunteers have contributed thousands of hours to ensure the operation of the society remains successful. Private, corporate and group donations were, and continue to be, a credit to the generous citizens of Kamloops and the surrounding areas.

The Kamloops Child Development Centre has a long history of providing inclusive childcare for families in the Kamloops area.  Forty-nine years ago 49 years. Starting with one classroom and two staff, a far cry from today.  Currently, we have 18 early childhood educators, one kitchen staff, four administration staff, a part-time custodian and countless volunteers.

We have worked hard to enrich the lives of the children who require extra supports and their families, by providing safe quality care for all children regardless of their physical, cognitive or social-emotional needs.  A big change for the Kamloops Child Development Centre a few years ago was to develop a partnership with outside professionals (Supported Child Development Centre) whereby we are able to ensure the children in our centre are receiving the best care possible.

We have expanded programming to include an after school program and more recently an infant/toddler program providing care for 36 children from birth to three years old.  We have changed our focus of one of our existing programs from preschool to full daycare to better meet the needs of working parents, without dropping the educational component of the preschool program.

Along with these programs, specific changes we have recognised over the last few years families struggle to meet the growing demand to feed, house and clothe their children.  Whereby proper nutrition is becoming harder and harder to maintain.  As a result, we are now providing a nutritious meal programme consisting of morning snack, full lunch and afternoon snack by a dedicated cook.  This is one of our most challenging programs as we made the difficult decision not to charge families an additional fee for this service.

Currently, we have 141 children registered.  Over 50% of our families require subsidised childcare and more than 30% of the children have special needs, behaviours and/or exceptionalities.