The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board is getting $5.8 million to create more than 200 new spaces at three new daycare centres at schools.

The Ministry of Education made the funding announcement on Wednesday.  

The funding comes as a result of an Early Years Capital program joint application from the WECDSB and the local consolidated municipal service manager.

It will allow the board to build new additions to create 73 spaces at St. Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Elementary School in Windsor, 73 spaces at Stella Maris Catholic Elementary School in Amherstburg, and 63 spaces at St. Louis Catholic Elementary School in Leamington.

“This should come as wonderful news to the busy working families in these communities who are struggling to find quality daycare for their children,” said board chair Barbara Holland. “We couldn’t be happier to be able to provide these spaces in our schools, and look forward to sharing all of the benefits of the faith-based education we offer with these new families.”

Many daycares in Ontario operate under the same roof as schools, and are run by independent, licensed providers.

Now that the board has received the funding, the next step will be for the board to call for expressions of interest from not-for-profit daycare providers to operate the centres.

Once the providers have been selected, the board, the providers, and a designated architect will agree on a submission for each project to be made to the Ministry.

Once approved, a public tender for construction will be issued.

Construction timelines will vary depending on the acquiring of various approvals and the complexity of each project, said Director of Education Terry Lyons.

“We’ll be working very hard to ensure that we can construct top quality facilities that can be available as soon as possible for these children,” said Lyons. “We understand that many families are currently on waiting lists for daycare and we would like to be a part of their solution.”

The funding comes as part of the provincial government’s commitment to create access to licensed child care for 100,000 more children aged 0 to 4 years old in Ontario over the next five years.

“Schools are a natural fit for licensed child care spaces,” said Minister of Education Indira Naidoo-Harris. “They provide families with access to safe, high-quality care in a convenient setting, and offer young children the opportunity to transition into full-day kindergarten in a familiar environment.

“These new spaces will give our youngest learners a strong start in life, and make a real difference in the lives of many Windsor-Essex families.”