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Society offering child care told to move from location next to Rogers Elementary

Rogers Society, which provides 63 child-care spaces, has been told it must vacate the space by June 30
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Amber McMillan, executive director of the Rogers Society, outside its building next to Rogers Elementary. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

A long-serving organization that provides 63 child-care spaces in a building next to Rogers Elementary has been told by the Greater Victoria School District that it must vacate its location by June 30.

“We are devastated,” the ­Rogers Society said in a ­statement. “We feel our voice as not-for-profit caregivers is being ignored and our continued desire to serve the community is disregarded.”

Executive director Amber McMillan said she has had some “pretty emotional” talks with parents.

Camille Brillon, who has a daughter in Grade 1 using the child-care program and is a member of the Rogers ­Elementary Parent Advisory Council, said she is hopeful the spaces will be saved.

“Currently there are a lot of families stressed out about this,” she said. “Finding child care is difficult.”

Brillon said the PAC is eager for more information.

McMillan said the society has operated in the building adjacent to the elementary school for 32 years, and has been trying to get an explanation for the district’s decision to cancel its licence of occupation. The building was built by the district for child care in 1991, she said.

The society has yet to receive a clear response from district officials, McMillan said.

The Greater Victoria School Board is not commenting right away. In a letter sent to affected families, chair Nicole Duncan said information will be provided following an in-camera board meeting on Monday.

“At this time, the board wishes to reassure families that rely on out-of-school care services that our intention is to ensure services are in place for the 2023-2024 school year,” Duncan said.

McMillan said the society reached out to the district a year ago because it knew changes were coming, as the province brought in funding changes and the Education Ministry was changed to the Ministry of ­Education and Child Care. The province has been creating child-care spaces in schools in partnership with school ­districts.

“We’re not arguing that,” McMillan said. “We’re just recognizing that this decision with no conversation means the end of 32 years of something.

“It’s outside of our control.”

Public donations and the involvement of area families helped get the society started in 1991, she said.

The society offers child-care spaces before school, after school and on professional-development days, McMillan said, as well as running spring and summer camps.

The building is also used for Montessori-run care for preschool children, the Kitten Mitten children’s theatre, clothing swaps and an LGBTQ support initiative.

“We’ve been operating like a community centre out of the necessity of wanting the ­building to be used, as opposed to just for kids,” McMillan said.

jbell@timescolonist.com

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