COINS Head Start program gets go-ahead

COINS Head Start program gets go-ahead

The Circle of Indigenous Nations Society (COINS) has gotten 10 years of operational funding for an Aboriginal Head Start Program for families, including a new building.

A new child care for the Aboriginal community of the Grand Forks ahead has gotten the go-ahead and the funding.

The Circle of Indigenous Nations Society (COINS) has gotten 10 years of operational funding for an Aboriginal Head Start Program for families, including a new building.

COINS is an Aboriginal non-profit society that supports social services in Nakusp, Grand Forks, Trail, Nelson and Castlegar.

Executive Director Kris Salikin says COINS expects the new child care centre to be up and running by December this year.

“Last year there was a call for expression of interest from our provincial Aboriginal Headstart, and we applied,” Salikin said. “They received 26 applications, we came in at 14th, and there were only going to be accepting 12. We were told we didn’t make it that round.

“Then in January, they gave us a call back and told us there were a couple of organizations that weren’t able to follow through with their plan of developing a HeadStart in their community, so they gave us another opportunity.”

In February, COINS submitted another proposal for its Aboriginal Head Start idea in the Grand Forks area, Salikin said. The plan was for a centre that included 24 child care spaces — 16 of these for three- to five-year-olds, and eight for infant toddlers. The proposal was accepted.

“Certainly the Grand Forks Aboriginal community has been talking about this for a number of years, and it’s been on our radar for at least a couple of years,” Salikin said.

“What it means for the Grand Forks area in terms of child care is space offered for indigenous children whose parents don’t have to pay for child care space.”

The child care centre — a brand new building — will be placed on the land of School District 51 beside the high school. The first floor will have a gathering space and office space, the top floor will be the child care centre.

Silikin feels the project is “the chance of the lifetime.”

“These opportunities don’t come up very often,” she said. “The capital costs, the building costs are fully funded, as well as full operational costs which allow the parents to receive free child care.”

To be eligible for child care at the new centre, parents need to be either working, looking for work or going to school.

“If they meet that criteria, as well as being First Nations, Métis or Inuit, then they would be eligible to participate in the child care program,” Salikin said.

COINS is hoping the project will be up and running by December, 2019.