Parents struggling to find childcare will have a new resource soon. The Victoria Early Years Centre, run out of the Saanich Neighbourhood place, has launched a new website called South Island Child to connect parents to caregivers and service providers on Southern Vancouver Island.
“Time and time again we see families struggling to find opportunities to connect with each other, find resources and access services,” said Colleen Hobson, executive director of Saanich Neighbourhood Place. “This is the first online resource that centralizes early childhood information from Port Renfrew to the Peninsula in one location making it easier for families to find what they need.”
Over 200 centres, drop-in programs and resources are listed on the website, as well as a detailed events calendar specifically catered to kids aging from prenatal to six years old.
“As new parents you don’t know what you don’t know, so it’s hard when you first have children to even really know the scope of what’s available to you,” said JoAnne Gordon, early years community engagement coordinator at Saanich Neighbourhood Place. “It’s not easy to find that information, and so because of that families are struggling to know where to begin.”
Gordon also said that many parents assume services and information through the Early Years Centre are only available to more vulnerable populations, but in actuality they are available to everyone.
“Every family can use varying degrees of support,” she said.
While the site officially launches on Monday, it is already up and running and has received good reviews from parents asked to test it out.
“Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” Gordon said. “I’ve had families take a test run, some whose kids have now aged to school aged, who were kind of sad that this didn’t exist when they had young kids.”
Gordon said the most popular features of the site include a “print function” that acts like an online shopping cart so you can find your information later, and the drop-in calendar that allows parents to find open spaces on short notice.
On Monday June 11 at 2:00 p.m. at the Saanich Neighbourhood Place at 3100 Tillicum Road, the Early Years Centre will host a celebratory walk-through of the website.
“It’s been a two-year project, so it definitely deserves a little celebration,” Gordon said.