Creston after-school program in jeopardy

The Grizzly Bear Out of School Care program would have around 23 children registered in past years, but due to COVID-19, it’s been limited to 16 youth — the number required in order for the program to continue

A local out-of-school care program may have to cease operations for the upcoming school year, due to a shortage in the number of children registered in the program.

“We need as many parents who are going to need care for their kids after school,” said Lisa Wrench, the manager of Grizzly Bear Out of School Care’s summer program.

The Grizzly Bear care program was created in 2002 by the Kootenai Community Centre Society, which operates and manages the Creston Valley Child Care Society (CVCCS).

The program — which is designed for youth ages 5 to 12-years-old — has a sister program called the Teddy Bear Day Care for children between the ages of 2.5 and 5-years-old.

“We’ve got about 10 (children) registered for the school year. But we’re a non-profit society. We need to make sure it covers our rent, our wages, the costs, their snacks,” said Wrench. “We have to make sure we have enough to cover.”

She added that the program would typically have around 23 children registered in previous years, but due to COVID-19, it’s been limited to 16 youth — the number required in order for the program to continue.

“I feel bad because I’ve been a single parent and I know how hard it is to find care. If I didn’t find Grizzly Bear, I don’t know what I would’ve done,” she said.

For the summer program, Wrench said that they currently have 12 youth registered, who spend their weekdays engaging in a number of gardening and outdoor activities.

So far, the youth in the summer program have been tending to garden boxes, learning about bugs, making slime and more.

“Every Wednesday is waterpark day. We do artwork, soccer, badminton outside. Scavenger hunts,” said Wrench. “We do a lot of building. Fun motor, gross motor activities.”

If the after-school program is cancelled for the school year, she said it would be a great loss to the community.

“It’s just a safe place for kids to go. They would be cared for, they would have a snack provided. They’re safe,” she said.

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