PRINCE GEORGE – As part of Child Care Month celebrations, the YMCA of Northern B.C. has been honoured with a 2014 B.C. Child Care Award of Excellence for demonstrating outstanding service to children and families in Prince George, MLAs Mike Morris and Shirley Bond announced today.

YMCA developed a joint partnership with the School District of Prince George and the Northern Health Authority to utilize vacant school space to deliver a multi-age program offering one-stop shop access for families. The YMCA provides a home-like environment that is conducive to learning through play, where children are encouraged to actively engage with their peers, build relationships and share their learning.

Lynette Mikalishen, director of child care services with the YMCA of Northern B.C., has also been honoured with an emerging leader award. Mikalishen created the Neighbourhood Scholar Early Learning Program and the Y Citizens program.

She is one of fifteen individuals and representatives who will receive Awards of Excellence at events throughout the province. In addition, 43 licensed child-care facilities that have supported children and families in their communities for more than 40 years will receive Child Care Legacy Awards.

The Child Care Awards of Excellence recognize the exceptional contributions made by early childhood educators, licensed family child-care providers, organizations and local governments throughout B.C. Award recipients were nominated by peers, parents and local governments.

“From early learning to school age care, the YMCA provides a nurturing environment to foster learning,” Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris said. “The YMCA plays an important role in supporting healthy child development in our community.”

“The YMCA of Northern BC child-care staff provide our children with high quality child care,” Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond said. “Thank you to Lynnette and all the staff at the YMCA for giving early learners guidance, teaching and care in a nurturing environment. Congratulations on this special recognition.”

The Ministry of Children and Family Development will invest $292 million on child care in 2014-15. Through the B.C. Early Years Strategy, the ministry is investing $32 million over the next two years to create up to 2,000 new licensed child-care spaces throughout the province. The goal is to open as many as 13,000 new spaces over the next eight years.