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New scholarship program to help kids access daycare in Inuvik

Inuvik’s Children First Society is hoping to have even more kids at its daycare by launching a new scholarship program.

Children First Society scholarship program is open to applications until Nov. 8

Photos of toddlers at the Inuvik Children First Centre in October 2019. The scholarship program will run until March 2020, and the Children First Society is working on funding for the next scholarship application. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

A daycare in Inuvik, N.W.T., is hoping to have even more kids at its centre by launching a new scholarship program.

About 90 children use Children First Society's centre every month. The daycare serves kids ranging from about one year in age to 12.

"Research tells us that for every dollar invested in early childhood, $9 to $13 can be saved later on in life in health, justice, and other areas,'' said Patricia Davison, executive director of the society.

The Children First Society scholarship program is meant to help Inuvik families — that may not be able to afford it — access early learning and care services at its Children First Centre. 

"It's really important to invest in the early years. This is where change happens. This is where communities get healthier," Davison said.

"With families who want to work, or attend training… or just have their child have some great experiences and interactions, early childhood programming is so important."

'Research tells us that for every dollar invested in early childhood $9 to $13 can be saved later on in life in health, justice, and other areas,' said executive director of the society Patricia Davison, photographed left. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Davison said the society secured some funding from the N.W.T.'s Health and Social Services Department from its anti-poverty fund.

That funding will serve as a starting base for the scholarship, and the society is working on securing more dollars to sustain the program and keep it going, she said.

Davison said she doesn't know how many families will be awarded scholarships yet but added it depends on the program they're interested in, since programs vary in cost.

For example, the infant program is the most expensive at $1,380 per month, and part-time programs go down to $475 per month.

Davison said there will be a specific criteria to see if a family qualifies for the program, and whether the child receives a full or partial scholarship depends on how the family fits the criteria. 

The centre will use a lottery process if there are more successful applicants than scholarships.

Photos of toddlers at the Inuvik Children First Centre. The Children First Society scholarship program is meant to help Inuvik families — that may not be able to afford it — access early learning and care services. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

"The board recognizes that not all families have equal access to the [Children First Centre] and we have found a small way to help alleviate that," said Mike Harlow, co-chair of Children First Society, in a press release.

Davison calls the society a grass-roots organization, and that this program is just one more way they can give back to community members.

"The community built this building, they worked really hard… and we want to see as many families being able to utilize this program and services that are offered here."

She said the program will run until March 2020, and the society is working on funding for the next scholarship application.

The society is accepting applications for the current scholarships until Nov. 8.

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