New daycare in Victoria focuses on supporting children, families who have suffered trauma

·2 min read
A teddy bear sits waiting to provide comfort to a child in need at the Little Phoenix Child Care Centre in Victoria. (United Way Greater Victoria - image credit)
A teddy bear sits waiting to provide comfort to a child in need at the Little Phoenix Child Care Centre in Victoria. (United Way Greater Victoria - image credit)

Children under five living in Victoria who have experienced trauma can now attend a daycare centre staffed and designed to support their complex needs.

Staff at the Little Phoenix Child Care Centre, located in the non-profit owned Victoria Social Innovation Centre, are specially trained to work with children who have experienced family violence; suffered physical, sexual or emotional abuse; or lived in a refugee camp.

The space, which opened May 5 with funding help from the provincial government, cares for children between the ages of 30 months and five years.

Jane Taylor Lee, executive director of Family Services of Greater Victoria — which collaborated on the project with the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society — says the plan is to provide children and their families access to a range of professionals who can support their needs.

They include trauma counsellors, art therapists, behaviour interventionists and speech pathologists.

"As opposed to looking at a child and saying, you know, 'what's wrong with you?' when the behaviour presents, what we're looking at is what has happened to you and how can healing be facilitated," said Lee, speaking on The Early Edition.

United Way Greater Victoria
United Way Greater Victoria

United Way Greater Victoria, which helped raise funds for the daycare, says research shows the recovery success rates for children who have experienced trauma are much higher with early intervention.

The space itself, said Lee, was designed "from a trauma-informed lens," which she said means using soft, somewhat muted colours in the decor — rather than primary colours, which can be overstimulating for a child who has suffered trauma.

If a child's family is open to it, staff can also make home visits to see how they can help everyone in the household, Lee said.

"We want to be able to work with the family as a whole," she added.

United Way Greater Victoria
United Way Greater Victoria

Little Phoenix operators have also partnered with the University of Victoria's School of Child and Youth Care, who will provide ongoing staff training.

Grace Lore, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill, said in a statement the province pitched in $500,000 to get the daycare up and running. She said effective supports like the wraparound services at Little Phoenix can "significantly change people's lives."

The Victoria Social Innovation Centre is located in the city's North Park neighbourhood. Children who live in the Greater Victoria Region can also attend Little Phoenix. To learn more visit littlephoenixchildcare.ca.

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