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SBNH offers childcare option for Marlborough families

South Burnaby Neighbourhood House (SBNH) has come up with a possible solution for parents of Marlborough elementary students needing out-of-school care.

SBNH has only 43 spaces for child care before and after school at Marlborough, Burnaby's largest elementary with more than 1,000 students. Those spots are full and there are currently 172 kids on a waiting list, said SBNH program director Sara Shaw.

Meanwhile, over at nearby Maywood Community School, SBNH's out-of-school-care program has capacity for 60 children, and there are about 25 spaces currently available.

SBNH is wanting to assist the programs at both schools by offering a walking schoolbus for Marlborough students who take up the empty spaces at Maywood.

Parents would drop off their children before school at Maywood and pick them up there at the end of the day. Childcare staff would supervise the Marlborough students on the 10-minute walk to and from their school.

Shaw said the lower numbers at Maywood are partly due to families moving out of the area to purchase more affordable housing elsewhere, such as in Maple Ridge.

"The kids used to be with us for the whole school year, a couple years at a time. Now kids will be with us just for a couple of months, then their families move completely out of the area. We're seeing a lot more of that."

She said some families were also displaced recently with the closure of an older apartment building in the neighbourhood to make way for a new highrise development.

It's a trend that's been going on for about a year. Last year, she said, the Maywood program started with 40 children and by the end of June, it was down to 28 kids.

So now the neighbourhood house is hoping to meet the needs of parents and students at both schools.

Both programs cost the same and are run the same way by the same organization. Children would not have to change schools.

Marlborough parents who choose the Maywood option would have to give up their spot on the waiting list at their school since it's quite difficult for children to move from one childcare to another, Shaw said.

In any case, the Marlborough program has very little turnover, with only eight kindergarten-aged children being accepted at the beginning of this school year, she noted.

And Marlborough parents won't have to worry about their children being bumped by Maywood students in future. "Once you're in the program you're in."

The walking schoolbus is already being done with Taylor Park elementary students walked to the SBNH childcare program at Stride school nearby.

Right now, the extra Maywood spaces are only being offered to Marlborough students as it's within walking distance and has the greatest need. Any interested parents can call Stasi Larson, coordinator of the Maywood program, at 604-431-0484.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

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