Day care centre for young parents gets cash infusion: Province announces this week it is increasing funding for the non-profit organization

Robert Barron, [Nanaimo] Daily News

Staff members and children at Nanaimo’s Little Ferns Early Learning Centre are breathing a little easier this week after the province announced it is increasing funding for the non-profit organization.

Little Ferns, which has been operating from a building on the grounds of John Barsby Community School for three years, serves young parents who had quit school and want to go back and complete their educations.

The learning centre, a combination day care and pre-school, receives $850 per month for each child whose parents have been approved under the government’s young parent program.

However, the Ministry of Children and Family Development announced this week that the 44 organizations that receive funding under the young parent program in the province, including Little Ferns, will have their funding increased to $1,000 per child.

Each of the organizations will also receive a one-time grant of about $1,000 to help their operations, the ministry also announced.

Christina Logan, one of seven early childhood educators that works at Little Ferns, said the extra cash will make a “huge difference” at the learning centre, which currently has 16 pre-schoolers and 12 infants enrolled.

She said the money means that Little Ferns can continue its popular daily meal program and will be of assistance for its transportation subsidy program for getting parents between the learning centre and the schools they attend.

Logan said Little Ferns used to get enough gaming funding to help the centre employ a cook and provide its kids with nutritious meals through the week.

“But when, like many organizations in the province, the government cut back severely on gaming grant funding last year, we began to rely on the community to provide us with funds to keep the program alive,” she said….

Amy Collum, executive director at Little Ferns, said the extra funding will also be used to increase the wages of staff members….