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The general contractor for the renovation to the David and Ruth Asper Early Learning Centre was Westland Construction. Fabris and Watts was the tile contractor, Wes-man mechanical was the mechanical contractor, LD lighting was the electrical contractor, and Amalgamated Drywall did the drywall.

Chen Daniel with her daughter Emma Stepansky

Rady JCC Opens New David and Ruth Asper Early Learning Centre-Mazel Tov!

by Rhonda Spivak, Sept 27, 2016

The Rady JCC’s new David & Ruth Asper Early Learning Centre opened on July 13 on Grosvenor Avenue—and is celebrating a successful first month of operations.

 “Nothing is more important to the community than our children, and this allows us to better provide child care to families who need it,” Rady JCC President Elliott Garfinkel says. “We are very happy that we will now be able to provide care for another 48 children in our community.”

Rady JCC’s Kaufman Child Care (located inside the Rady JCC at 123 Doncaster Street) has a significant wait list of families looking for child care services, which has presented challenges for the staff and Board of Directors looking to address the backlog.The 48 spaces in the new facility were filled from the existing wait list.

“The interest and popularity is a testament to the programming provided, and that’s great to see, but we want to provide more families with access to our child care services and the opening of a second location is a very positive step,” Rady JCC Executive Director, Gayle Waxman, says. "Four spaces are for children who are 18 months old and the rest are for children who are 2 years old to 5 years old, although we are focusing on children from 2 years to 4 years old," she says.

The Rady JCC's early learning and child care programs are open to all, not only members of the Jewish community. In answer to a question from the Winnipeg Jewish Review, Waxman indicated , however, that "We estimate that between 90%-95% of families in our programs identify as Jewish."

The newly opened David and Ruth Asper Early Learning Centre on Grosvenor, which was designed by Architecture 49 and constructed by Westland Construction  has a state of the art design, and includes 3 rooms ( with 16 children occupying each room). The children are  grouped by age into 3 classes:  18 months-2 years, 2-3 years and 3 years and up. The new Centre has a full kitchen, an office, a small staff room, storage and laundry, and is beautifully designed to create a positive learning environment where children feel at home. There is a fenced, outdoor area which includes a sand-pit with natural play area, and a state of the art security system.

Waxman notes that " Our early learning/child care programs offer high quality early learning opportunities that promote Jewish values, facilitate the learning about Jewish culture and traditions and promote a strong Jewish identity.  That said, our approach in general is designed to foster healthy child development based on current best practices for promoting healthy child development.  In addition to meeting or exceeding all child care standards set by the province of Manitoba, we also offer Sheva - an early learning program developed by the JCCA that integrates the best in early childhood education practices with a strong Jewish life curriculum."

Waxman also indicated that the project’s fundraising campaign has so far raised $1.285M, and is in its final stages. In addition to private donors, the project received a contribution from the provincial government and recent grant from Community Places.

Waxman added that "We are fortunate to have a Board of Directors that was willing to take measured risks and to have supporters in the community, like David and Ruth Asper, Marvin Peters, Marjorie Blankstein, Debbie Gray, Sara Gray, Nora and Harry Warren,and Tova and Larry Vickar who understood the importance of this project to the future of the community."

The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba also provided the Rady JCC  with a capital grant of $40,000.

Waxman said that the Rady JCC is hopeful " that we will receive the support of a few more community-minded people to help us complete our campaign."

Waxman indicated that  the  feedback from the families using the new centre has been very positive. " The families are extremely pleased with the new Centre both in terms of the building, the location and most importantly the program.  The design of the centre functions extremely well.  The staff is combination of new staff and staff who were previously at our other site - the Kaufman Child Care Centre.   The team is being lead by Hilarie Schroeder who has been with us at the Kaufman Child Care Centre for several years.  The team has worked hard to make sure everything was in place for the children and the parents have been really appreciative of this.

"I along with Elliott Garfinkel our President and Debbie Hoffman our Senior Vice President had the pleasure of being at the new centre on the first day. Seeing the families walk in with their children and the way our staff made sure each child and each family felt welcomed and comfortable was amazing and said so much about the Rady JCC and our community as whole.  Seeing the families, it gave us a real sense of our community's future strength.  Most people don't realize that the child care centres are funded  through a government grant and parent fees - which makes it an incredibly cost-effective way for us to reach out to young families."

The Winnipeg Jewish Review asked if there is any possibility of expanding the new daycare  in the future to add more spots, but Waxman responded that "There is no room on the site of the David and Ruth Asper Early Learning Centre for expansion."

The Winnipeg Jewish Review also asked Waxman whether the Rady JCC is already looking for new property to buy to turn into a daycare given the extensive wait list of  over 900 children. Waxman responded "... The Rady JCC Board as part of our long-term Jewish Life and Community Strategy is committed to doing what we can to respond to this significant community need.  We have been so pleased to see how quickly the David and Ruth Asper Early Learning Centre has gotten up to speed - thanks to our amazing staff and our Director of Child Care Services Eleonora Caporalini.  This fall we have also been invited by Brock Corydon School to open an after school program at the school for their students.  We are very excited to be able to offer this program and engage with the Brock Corydon families.  In terms of an additional site, that requires a number of factors to be in place, starting with the government's approval to open and provide funding for another centre.  As well. we need to find an appropriate site and we need to raise the funds to complete the project.   The Board is committed to ensure any new project is financially viable and sustainable and that we are able to maintain the high quality of learning and care in all our programs."

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.