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New day care in Fort Smith

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Fort Smith (Dec 19/05) - A saviour has emerged for day care in Fort Smith.

Uncle Gabe's Friendship Centre plans on opening a new day care in the space recently vacated by the defunct Rainbow Child Care and Development Centre on Jan. 3.

"We're not taking over the day care," says Chris Bird, executive director of Uncle Gabe's. "We're starting another day care."

Uncle Gabe's has obtained $33,000 in start-up funding from the Department of Education, Culture and Employment. That money will be used for equipment, insurance and initial salaries for staff.

The space in the basement of the Mount Aven Building has been leased from Aurora College for $1 a year.

About 10 Aurora College students require day care for their children.

"It's a good thing they're going to open it up," says Michelle Firth, a student from Inuvik.

However, she is not sure if she will place her three-year-old daughter in the day care. When the Rainbow centre closed, her sister came from Inuvik to help her with child care. Firth says if her sister returns home, she will place her daughter in the new day care.

Education Minister Charles Dent is pleased the new day care is opening.

As for why extra funding didn't go to the Rainbow centre to keep it open, Dent says people shouldn't confuse start-up money and operating funds.

Rainbow got the same start-up support when it began, he notes.

"If we had provided them extra operating funds, we would have had to provide it to others," he says.

The new 25-space day care will employ one supervisor, four full-time workers and four casuals.

"The wages are going to be lower than before," Bird says, although he declined to go into detail. "Based on the numbers, there's only so much you can pay staff."