A popular resource for young families has a new temporary home and new management.
The Yellowknife Family Centre, operated for 23 years by Yellowknife Catholic Schools, is now working out of an apartment on 54 Avenue and managed by YWCA of Yellowknife.
The centre offers families with children from birth to age five a place to socialize and take part in programs such as a toy lending library. More than 400 families accessed the service in some form in 2015.
Lyda Fuller, executive director of the YWCA, said she’s excited to be running the centre and glad the Catholic school district approached her roughly six months ago about taking on the program.
Janette Morris, director of child and youth services with the YWCA, said her organization has received nothing but positive feedback so far.
“The kids seem to be having an amazing time,” she said. “Some of the moms are excited to have separate spaces if they need quiet time with a younger baby.”
Parents who use the centre expressed concern about its future a year ago when it was given notice to vacate the space it occupied for 11 years on the second floor of the SideDoor Resource Centre. SideDoor wanted the space to expand its programming.
After leaving SideDoor, the centre temporarily relocated its drop-in service and most programming to a classroom at St. Joseph School while the toy library was moved to Weledeh Catholic School.
Claudia Parker, the superintendent of Yellowknife Catholic Schools, said the move to classroom space was temporary, and last July the district’s board decided to transition the family centre out of the district’s control.
Parker did not return a request for comment.
“With junior kindergarten coming up, they felt they didn’t have time to devote to this since it’s not really their focus,” said Fuller on Wednesday.
The YWCA worked with Northview Apartment REIT, previously Northern Property REIT, to secure a two-bedroom apartment in Rockridge Apartments across the street from its 54 Avenue office. The ground floor apartment faces the street, making direct access for families easy.
Every bit of space in the new apartment is used. The doors of a closet off the main entrance have been removed to turn it into a small play area.
The grand opening was May 8.
Fuller said the apartment is also a temporary space. The YWCA hopes to land a large venue that can host both the toy lending library and drop-in centre. It’s not clear if that will be a stand-alone space, whether it would incorporate infant daycare, whether it would be included in plans to expand Lynn’s Place.
The centre previously had two staff members employed by the Catholic school district. Neither of the staff have transitioned to the YWCA.
In the 2015-16 fiscal year, the centre received $182,000 from the Public Health Agency of Canada and $67,000 from the Department of Education, Culture and Employment. The funding is expected to continue under YWCA management, Fuller said.
“From my perspective, the federal funding for the family centre is targeted toward families that experience conditions of risk and we see a lot of those families, so having it near here is an advantage,” Fuller said.
Much of the previously offered programming is expected to continue, though the YWCA is talking to parents about what they liked and didn’t like about the family centre to see if any changes need to be made.
One thing that will change is that the centre will operate year-round. It closed for the summer when it was operated by the school district.