Bissell Centre’s New Early Childhood Development Centre

The Cause

Bissell Centre has a long history of empowering people living in poverty or experiencing homelessness in the Edmonton area towards a more prosperous future. Over 100,000, or 1 in 8 people, are living in poverty in our city. The rate of poverty amongst children is even higher, with 1 in 5 living in low-income families.

The lack of affordable, quality child care has been identified by End Poverty Edmonton as a significant barrier to families who are trapped in poverty. Education and employment opportunities are foundational in helping families out of poverty. The availability of accessible, affordable, high quality child care is a critical element in the pursuit of both education and employment for parents who want to move out of poverty.

For over 40 years, Bissell Centre has operated a free, drop-in Child Care that cares for up to 40 infants and children every day. To meet the growing need for quality, affordable child care and to better meet the needs of the families we serve, Bissell Centre is planning on expanding our accredited child care services by creating 30 full and part time paid child care spots, in addition to the 40 free drop-in spots already available. Bissell Centre was a successful applicant in becoming an Early Learning and Child Care Centre through the Government of Alberta which caps fees at $25 per day.

Our current child care facility is too small to accommodate the 30 additional spots. As such, Bissell Centre has leased a larger space from Capital Region Housing located in the Boyle Street community, a low-income residential neighbourhood in Edmonton. The Early Childhood Development Centre will only be a short walk or bus-ride away for many of the families we serve. Our Family Resources program will also be available on site, thus ensuring all the supports our families need will be in one accessible location.

The new Early Childhood Development Centre needs extensive renovations to meet child care licensing requirements. Funding from the Field Law Community Fund will help us pay for the renovations that are needed before we can open the new Centre.

Who Will it Benefit?

This project will benefit children and families who are living in poverty in Edmonton’s inner-city. Bissell Centre believes that if families are provided with affordable high-quality child care, then they can focus on what they need to do to move out of poverty, such as obtaining meaningful employment, addressing mental health concerns and pursuing further education. By relocating and expanding our services and hours to provide affordable full-time child-care options, we provide opportunities for parents or guardians who are working or attending school full time to access a consistent child care spot. This allows families to be self-sufficient, obtain stability in their lives and empower them to independently meet the needs of their family.

Not only will Bissell Centre’s new Early Childhood Development Centre address a lack of spaces a in low-income neighbourhood, it will also address a lack of affordable child care for families living in poverty. EndPovertyEdmonton states that high-quality early learning and care is essential to provide children with the skills they need to succeed. Without these supports, children can easily remain in the cycle of intergenerational poverty. “This system must ensure early learning and care that is high in quality, universally available, inclusive, accessible to all families, and either free or affordable.” (pg. 40, EndPovertyEdmonton Strategy, December 2015).

Many parents living in poverty work full time but still cannot afford childcare at regular rates in daycare centres in their neighborhood. Bissell’s Early Childhood Development Centre will provide affordable care for families who are struggling. When parents and guardians can provide a more stable living environment, then the children will also thrive.