By Surbhi Gogia
Goging to a childcare or a pre-school is usually your child’s first exposure to the outside world. The separation from loved ones, own home and small routines is what makes both the parents and the child nervous and anxious about the whole process. Parents are worried about how well physical and emotional needs of their little one will be taken care off. “It is very important for parents to select the appropriate childcare services for their kids. They should go with the place where they feel their child would be comfortable. Every child is unique and he/she needs a place that would focus and encourage their uniqueness,” says Satwant Kaur Gill, manager, Khalsa Childcare Centre of Surrey.
It is because of this positive approach towards kids, the Khalsa Childcare Centre has won many hearts. Recently its efforts were acknowledged and awarded by the provincial government. The Centre, started by Satnam Education Society of B.C. was among the outstanding child care professionals who received the 2018 Child Care Awards of Excellence at a ceremony in Richmond.
After an open call for nominations and a review by an external selection committee, 10 recipients, including organizations and individual child care providers in British Columbia, were selected to receive Child Care Awards of Excellence in five categories: provincial, Indigenous, innovation, partnerships and leadership.
Khalsa Childcare Centre was selected in the Provincial Award category.
The Provincial Award recognizes early care and learning (ECL) professionals or teams who work in child care settings throughout the province and demonstrate excellence in at least one of the following areas: working collaboratively with others; creating cultural safety through culturally competent practice and inclusion of Indigenous language, culture and traditions; ensuring inclusion / encouraging diversity; supporting community efforts and continuous improvement / excellence in early learning. This year there were four winners.
Acknowledging the efforts of current government in the field of childcare, Satnam says, “We have no words to describe how are we feeling. We are so proud. All the staff in the centre works extremely hard to serve the community. We are run by a non-profit organization which believes in Seva (a selfless service to society). We are glad that all the positive strategies and approaches adopted by us are now being recognized.”
The centre which was founded in 1991 is located right beside the Khalsa School of Surrey. The centre has been serving Surrey’s Punjabi community for the past 25 years. Looking at the increasing demand, four more locations of Khalsa Childcare Centre were opened eventually two in Newton, one in Abbotsford and another one in Aldergrove, Langley. Either you are a single mom or a new immigrant family, lack of finances should not stop you from registering your child with the centre. “Living in BC is becoming so expensive. Everyone needs to go out and earn their living. Our organization makes sure that we can provide the right kind of financial support to those who cannot pay for their childcare. We are currently blessed to have a government which is doing so much for the childcare. The government has increased the subsidy brackets for childcare. They have increased the salaries of the childcare providers. Along with government subsidy, we too try to help the families in need,” says Satnam.
Along with providing child care and pre-school services, the centre aims to promote cultural and spiritual practices amongst kids. Along with focusing on the general Canadian curriculum, the childcare providers here aim to promote cultural knowledge. “We have English circles, playtime story time and all the routine things that other childcare centre follow. But along with that we have religious circle every day. During this time we introduce them to Punjabi language and culture. The kids are also encouraged to participate in the monthly kirtan,” Satwant informs.
Satwant says from her personal experience that the kirtan practice brings you closer to Sikhism. “When I joined this organization after a few months I got call for a union job. But by that time I came so close to Sikhism due to kirtan, I wanted to serve my community.”
Apart from cultural safety through culturally competent practice and inclusion of culture and traditions, the centre also works with other organizations in promoting community efforts.”We invite people from the community every month to talk about various issues. We have guest speakers like a police officer, Fire fighter, dentist, librarian or a teacher to talk to kids,” she says.
The Childcare Centre also promotes academic learning amongst kids of different age groups that come there. Currently there are 25 kids at the Surrey centre starting from the age group of 2 and a half year. “Every child’s need is different and everyone learns at their own space. We try to identify the unique skills and work step by step from working on their separation anxieties to developing their social skills and then concentrate on academics to make their transition smooth to the kindergarten,” she says.
The ultimate aim is to make a child and his parents experience enriching.