College play lab being well-received by community: Costello

The Northern College play lab is being well-received by the community, says the director of children’s services.

During a presentation about an update on the Cochrane District EarlyON Child and Family Centres at the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board on Thursday (Oct. 19), Shannon Costello, director of children’s services, said the early childhood education (ECE) lab has been a great collaboration.

The play lab's grand opening was in November 2022.

It's a space where children from local school boards and daycare providers visit to interact with the ECE students, who apply their learning. The college classroom offers children's activities and interactive areas.

Northern College used to have its own daycare where students could go in and engage with the children. The daycare is no longer open.

“Families that have attended have expressed how awesome it is to have something in South Porcupine. So, we're keeping that in mind when we're looking at our strategic planning for the next couple of years of expansion of EarlyOn,” Costello said

“It's also been a great opportunity for us to meet with ECE students and to have more conversations about the different opportunities there are in the north.”

According to Costello’s report, during focus groups, they have heard from families that communication between families and educators was an issue.

“The pandemic brought an environment where communication only happened through technology,” the report said.

“To help ECE students develop this skill, administration has collaborated with Northern College ECE program to offer an EarlyON program in their lab. Students will have an opportunity to learn how to interact with families in the childcare and EarlyON environment before going on placements.”

Last month, Andrea Lauzon started her position with CDSSAB children’s services as the program manager for quality assurance of EarlyON Child and Family Centres. The position had been vacant for three months.

Goals for the new program manager in quarter four of 2023 are to continue partnership development and enhancement with community partners and work with current service providers to increase utilization in centres, the report said.

Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,