Cree-ative Wonders Childcare Center is a program under Saulteau First Nations. We are licensed through Northern Health to ensure a high-quality level of programming and to access funding from the Ministry of Children and Family Development childcare operating funding and funding through First Nations Health Authority Head Start On Reserve.
We are members of the Aboriginal Childcare Society and the Canadian Child Care Federation. Our priority is to provide services to the members of Saulteau First Nations as well as to SFN staff, so they can provide services through their work to citizenship.
We have 2 main programs and operate various programs within these groups. The Toddler program is for children aged 1-35 months and has 8 spaces; this is full time childcare. The Second main program is for ages 36 months to grade 1 aged children. This program has 16 full time spaces, but some spaces are shared. In this program we have full time childcare spaces, before and after school (pro-d days too) and we have a Head Start preschool program.
Our hours of operation are Monday to Thursday 7:45 am to 4:30 pm depending on the program the child is signed up for.
We have a very qualified staff with over 100 years of combined experience in childcare and early education and development.
"(Culture and language) are the foundation of both individual and collective identity and its erosion can adversely affect mental health and well-being, leading to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicide."
Languages are how cultures convey meaning. First Nations languages in BC have experienced a century of language repression, followed by decades of neglect. While the AHSOR program cannot undo this loss of language, its focus on culture and language - part of the health of communities - plays a positive role in a child’s development.
The culture and language component allow First Nations children to experience their cultures and learn their languages. Activities give children a sense of belonging and an identity as a First Nations person.
Education is a key social determinant of health and, especially in the early years, can have a major influence on the health and quality of an individual’s life. The history of education for First Nations people in BC (and Canada) is marked significantly by fear and pain, which has affected children, families and communities. These feelings present obvious difficulties for encouraging learning.
The education component promotes life-long learning with activities that encourage a child’s readiness to learn. Activities also focus on the physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual and social development needs of children. Community members, including Elders, are involved in helping with early literacy activities, such as printing and recognizing sounds and words.
The health promotion component encourages children and families to have a healthy lifestyle. Programming promotes physical activity, such as playground activities and traditional games. Staff promote self-care, such as helping children to brush their teeth, and encourage appropriate assessments for children (for example, vision and hearing testing). Programming also includes visits with health professionals such as nurses (for immunizations), dental hygienists, speech therapists and physicians. Parents and families are also supported with access to health professionals.
Nutrition is an important part of healthy living. Good food can improve an individual’s health and poor or inadequate food can undermine health. Good eating habits established early can lead to better health throughout life.
While food security can be an issue for some First Nations people, providing information about nutrition and healthy eating to children and their caregivers is key to long-term health.
Programming offers nutritious snacks and meals and provides children with opportunities to participate in traditional food gathering activities. Nutritionists and other health professionals provide information on healthiest choices.
Social support is an important social determinant of health. Quite simply, the support of family and community is critical in determining an individual’s health. Many First Nations people experience strong social support - whether its communities helping members who are suffering from an illness or tragedy, or family members at a maternity ward to support a new mother and baby.
While colonization, to some degree, has eroded the strong social supports that have always been central in the lives of First Nations, these supports can be rebuilt in our families and communities.
The social support component informs parents and guardians about the resources, services and health providers available to them to achieve a healthy and holistic lifestyle.
The parental and family involvement component recognizes and supports the role of parents and family as the primary teachers and caregivers of their children. Programming provides opportunities for participation in parent/guardian committees, monthly family dinners, children's field trips and other after hour activities. Outreach services and home visits support parental and family involvement by bringing programming into the home.
We are the only center in the Chetwynd/Hudson Hope/Moberly Lake area that has separate programs for Toddlers and Preschoolers full time. We are the largest program in the area, and it has been done much through the work of Saulteau First Nations staff and leadership with funding help and guidelines from various partners. We have developed as a service and not a business where the community comes before the Business. The staff tries very hard to find ways to work with families at the same time as following the required rules and regulations of our licensing and funders.
It would surprise many people to know that it costs about $55/day/child to operate the center. This has a lot to do with the licensing requirements that outlines the staff to child ratio. We have one of the best buildings in BC and are one of the top programs. The staff we have is one of the biggest reasons for this as they go far above and beyond for the children.
When a parent applies for a space at the center when it is available, we have to take the time to make sure our program, current children and the new child is a right fit for the center. For this reason, we start children off participating in the morning program first and when they are ready, they can move into a full-time program.
Parents are always welcome to come to the center or visit and we recommend they stay for the first few visits. A child will move to full day as quickly as they are ready which could be the first day or longer. Some children take a lot longer to adjust but when they are ready, we can proceed. We only adjust children 1 or 2 at a time so they can be the focus.
Our staff is not certified Special Needs Educators and currently there is no funding for extra special needs support staff. This is something we have been pushing the government to fund along with more early intervention supports and specialists for Early Intervention.
Our program does require all documents be in the file prior to a child started including immunization records. We require all staff and children are immunized to attend this program unless they can prove that they are medically unable to be immunized.
We require that all eligible families apply for the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) childcare subsidy. All families that are not eligible or turned down will be included in the center subsidy at this time so there is no out of pocket expenses to the families involved.
For the MCFD subsidy you need to be working, in school or actively seeking work. If you are a guardian under MCFD you can get a letter from MCFD workers for supports. The amount that can be earned family income has gone up a lot in the past year opening the subsidy to more families. You can make an appointment with Corrina Wutzke at the SFN Health Center if you require assistance filing these documents.
Please visit Cree-ative Wonders Head Start on Facebook and check out our programs.