More childcare options will be available in downtown Kingston by the end of the year as BGC South East is expanding its daycare and licensed before- and after-school programs at the Robert Meek Community Centre.
According to a release from the organization, the community centre, at 559 Bagot Street, has undergone over $225,000 worth of renovations including toddler washrooms, new flooring, equipment, and outdoor playground upgrades. BGC South East said it is now ready to serve children aged 18 months to 4 years of age with full-day childcare programs, as well as before and after-school licensed programs for school-aged children.
To mark the launch, BGC is holding an Open House on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., when families can enjoy children’s activities and tours of the facility. Free parking is available in the rear lot off Corrigan Street.
“We are excited to keep the Robert Meek Community Centre relevant for our next generation, and to support families living or working downtown with childcare,” said Jacqueline Collier, President of the Board of Directors at BGC South East.
“The spaces are bright, and carefully arranged with early learning furniture and toys. There is an amazing playground outside with so much active space! We invite families and the community to see and participate in fun activities on November 18th.”
BGC South East (formerly known as the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston and Area) has been operating after-school programs and summer camps at the Robert Meek Community Centre for over 20 years. The Centre also held EarlyON programs, which will continue as part of the new childcare focus and serving children up to age 12, the organization shared with Kingstonist in an email.
According to the release, The new full-day programming will also see the Helen Tufts Nursery School merge into full day services. In response to Kingstonist inquiries, BGC South East shared that it has been operating Helen Tufts since the Fall of 2021.
“Helen Tufts Nursery School has been serving Kingston for more than 45 years, providing critical early learning childcare for children with special needs from low income families. It was a half-day program that we operated at the Robert Meek Community Centre, and will now be full-day childcare,” said Amanda Guarino, Director of Resource Development and Communications for BGC South East.
The BGC Childcare Centre will have 75 full day childcare spots for children aged 18 months to four years old, and over 130 before and after-school spots for children ages four to 12. Since 2010, the Robert Meek location has run licensed after-school care and camps for children aged four to 12 with 80 spaces. In 2021, the organization expanded to also serve 23 preschool spots at the downtown location with a half day program (Helen Tufts Nursery School). The new Childcare Centre will double the number of available spots and children to be served, the organization expressed.
BGC South East said the significant scope of renovations was made possible with contributions from the Davies Foundation and the City of Kingston.
“The need for childcare in Kingston has never been higher. We commend BGC South East for this timely and meaningful project which will benefit so many families in our community,” said Sam Davies, Chair of the Davies Foundation. “Initiatives like the Robert Meek Community Centre serve as another reminder of the positive impact BGC South East has in Kingston and why the Davies Charitable Foundation is so proud of its longstanding support.”
“BGC has had a long-standing partnership with the City of Kingston. We are pleased to support this expansion and recognize the positive impact that additional child care spaces will have for families in our community,” added Heather Mitchell, Manager of Social Services and Early Years at the City of Kingston.
BGC South East is accepting new families through the Centralized Childcare Registry. Families are encouraged to join the waitlist for the new spaces at https://kingston.onehsn.com/ux_2_0. The organization expects the new spaces to become available in early December.
“We are so thankful for this support. The organization continues to grow tremendously, serving over 6,700 children and youth last year. Adding a new stream of childcare programs expands development opportunities even more, offering community services in great need,” Collier said.
Learn more about BGC South East on the website: https://www.bgcsoutheast.ca/