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Durham eyes potential indigenous-focused child care centre for region

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The region will receive provincial funding to continue developing plans for indigenous-focused child care.

In December, Durham officials learned the region’s proposal for an Aboriginal Early Years Coordinator will be funded through Ontario’s Journey Together program over the next two years.

Durham will receive $157,575 in 2018 and $306,485 in 2019 towards the coordinator project.

Upon approval of this year’s budget, Durham will enter into a service agreement with the Durham Region YMCA, which currently provides indigenous programming.

In 2017, the region’s children services division began to gauge local needs in order to develop culturally relevant licensed child care spaces and child/family programs and services for indigenous families.

Staff has recommended the development of a ‘centrally-located land-based Indigenous Early Years Centre of Excellence” to offer a balance of outdoor and indoor environments using ‘culture-based approaches’.

In theory, this centre, if developed, would be reviewed and evaluated by an indigenous-led council on an ongoing basis.

Other features would include family programming such as drop-in programs, after-school supports, access to traditional healers and counsellors for family reconciliation and the Aboriginal Healthy Babies Healthy Children program.

The staff report also calls for increased indigenous culture-based early years programming at four existing Early Years Centres and advanced training for existing and new staff.

The contract coordinator position is expected to be filled later this year.