Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The long-awaited opening of the only Queens Daycare Association infant facility for ages four-to-18-months took place on Nov. 16.
"It's very exciting for sure. It's a big gap in the community that was identified a long time ago," said Scott Christian, chair of the Queens County Daycare Association. "I think it's really big for our community and big for the labour force participation as well, particularly for women."
The new Queen's County Daycare Association facility located on College Street in Liverpool, which can accommodate up to eight infants, is the only licensed infant daycare in the Region of Queens Municipality.
Work on the project began in December 2020 and it was hoped that the facility would open in February of 2021.
"It was just very challenging. There are so many layers of approvals and so many specifics around it," Christian said of the delay. "There are lots of reasons why the project is way over budget and way past the timeline, but right now we're just happy it's finally open."
The estimated cost of the facility was approximately $350,000, but with the delays the cost will run the association closer to the $400,000 mark. That will include items such as toys, furniture, bedclothes and everything needed to get started.
Despite the rise in cost, it's expected the expenses can be covered, however.
In 2018, the province committed $250,000 in grant money and the association was able to raise the other $150,000.
The prefabricated building was built by a local builder, Lloyoll Prefabs.
As of the opening date, there were three infants ready to take their spots in the new facility. Christian believed it wouldn't take long to fill the remaining five spaces.
He and his wife have an infant who will be moving into the facility right away.
The opening of the 102.2-square-metre facility expands the Queens County Daycare capacity to enable it to house a total of 50 children up to 12 years of age.
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, client numbers at the facility dropped to the point that it was operating at half capacity.The numbers have since rebounded, however, and they now have a waiting list of 30 to 40 children.
"We are very thankful for the support from the province and the community on this," said Christian. "It's exciting times for early childhood development and the Queens Daycare Association."