Ponoka Youth Centre rolls back Before School Program to early start

Drop off to change to 6:30 a.m. starting Oct. 15

In the hopes of accommodating more families, the Ponoka Youth Centre has changed its start time for its Before School Program, allowing drop offs at 6:30 a.m. starting Oct. 15.

The Before School Program was initiated with parents who do shift work, such as hospital workers, who start at 7 a.m.

However, after a full month of operating the new program and receiving some feedback from the community, it was clear some adjustments needed to be made, according to Morgen Chernick, program director.

Previously, drop-off started at 6:50 a.m.

“We’re really realizing that’s not enough time for them to drop off their children and get to work,” said Chernick.

The realization was that the cost of running the program was higher than initially anticipated, although costs to parents will not change.

The cost paid by the government for those who qualify for subsidy is now $15 per day, per child, and for those who aren’t government subsidized, the cost to parents remains $10 per day, per child and the youth centre absorbs the additional cost.

Chernick says that’s something the youth centre has always done to keep costs as low as possible for families.

For example, the actual cost of the After School Program is $16 per child per day but parents are only charged $11 if they don’t have government subsidy.

The 20-minute early start won’t affect scheduling overly much, and Chernick says the high-qualified, caring staff are “dedicated to doing whatever is needed in the best interests of the children.”

Besides those two changes the Before School Program will stay the same, with structured activities and child-directed play, as well as a quiet area for children to rest if desired.

As before, children are welcome to bring their breakfast and eat it at the centre if they would like to.

The program will begin at 6:30 a.m. and go until 8:15 a.m. on school days.

There will continue to be a supervised walking group to both elementary schools.

The youth centre does require families to pre-register for the Before School Program to participate as space is limited.

Chernick says they’d like to see more families participate in the program and the centre hopes moving the start time will allow more families to make use of the program.

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