Celebrating years of love and learning

Written by Toni Lavigne-Conway | Special to the Valley Gazette

Celebrating anniversaries is important, allowing us to mark significant milestones and reflect on progress and achievement. With a great deal of pride and plenty of smiles, the Kidz Kastle Children’s Centre in Barry’s Bay did just that recently, commemorating their fifth anniversary.

Way beyond what some might consider babysitting services, the Kidz Kastle (KK) plays a multifaceted role in nurturing the development of children, fostering social development, and supporting working parents.
Operated by the Community Resource Centre (CRC), KK has three locations in the area: Barry’s Bay and Whitney, both celebrating five years this month, and Killaloe, now in operation for 18 years.

Colleen Watson, supervisor of the Barry’s Bay location, said initially the day care was established in response to the need for child care. She recalls that although enrollment was a bit slow at first, it certainly increased over time to the point where they are now at full capacity with a wait list that is already greater than 50 per cent of the children they currently serve.

She notes that the federal government initiative in early 2023 to reduce day care fees has played a role in helping families have greater access to day care services. The cost per child when the centre opened five years ago was approximately $45.00/per day. Today, those fees are just over $21.00/day and are expected to further reduce to an average of $10/day sometime in 2025. “The current lower fees for day care have certainly made it more affordable for families and affected growth in enrollment.”

The solid reputation of KK and the need for enriched community child care in the area is reflected in their current numbers that indicate 69 children (representing 50 families) are enrolled at the Barry’s Bay site. They also have a hefty waitlist of 39 children with more calls of interest coming in regularly. Thirteen staff support the children, among them registered and unregistered early childhood educators, a cook, and three inclusion support staff who assist children with additional needs.

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