WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent will be receiving significant funding to open a new and improved centre.

The money comes as part of the 2021 Ontario Budget unveiled on Wednesday.

“It’s like living in a dream right now,”says executive Director of the Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent Donna Litwin-Makey.

Litwin-Makey says the funding will go towards a specialized new space that will provide services and programs for children and youth with physical, communication, and developmental needs.

“We’re so appreciative of the funding,” says Litwin-Makey. “It’s an amazing investment from the province and there is a lot of excitement.”

The Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent Board Chair, Beth Cummings, issued a statement saying “the Centre plays an integral part in the lives of many families in our community. A new state of the art Children’s Treatment Centre will allow us to reduce our waiting lists and provide new opportunities to meet the needs of Chatham-Kent youth, families, and community partners.”

Officials say the centre has a caseload of about 5,000 children and a waiting list of roughly 1,000 youth for various services.

Parent and Board Chair Mike Grail expressed appreciation towards the province.

“You have shown your faith in the work that the Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent does to assist our most special population of children and youth in this community to live their best life,” Grail added “Additionally, you’ve proved that rural kids matter and for that we are grateful.”

The new building on McNaughton Avenue W. will double the size of the current centre and will incorporate a family-friendly design. Litwin-Makey says they will keep families and clients up to date with the building’s planning, noting the cost of construction material has increased substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are awaiting updated costing, we do know that materials have gone up particularly during COVID, but we do feel that we will be very close and we have an amazing foundation who also has raised money in order to equip the building, furniture fixtures and equipment,” Makey adds. “We’ll keep a close eye on costs to see if we need some extra help.”

In addition to the capital investment announcement, Litwin-Makey also noted that part of the budget announcement saw an additional $60-million base budget increase annually for three years to Children’s Treatment Centres across the province to significantly reduce wait lists for child development and rehabilitation services, and to continue building existing clinical programs.