The southeastern Saskatchewan community of Grayson will be welcoming its first fully licensed daycare this September.

“This is just a way we really ensure that we keep our young families in our community, our children at our school and our kids, overall, just safe and healthy,” said Megan Thiedig, vice-chair of the Grayson Community Daycare Committee.

The new daycare space will be created by joining two existing classrooms in the Grayson School, a Grade 4-5 split and the school’s old band room. It will open up 20 licensed daycare spots for the community.

In the past, families were traveling 40 km either way, just to find licensed care. Thiedig said day homes and babysitters exist in Grayson, but the community wanted something more concrete.

“You end up having to look for a lot of those work-around processes, or people that are willing to do that. It’s just, it’s not a stable thing,” she explained.

A mother of two herself, Thiedig said she was using a regular daycare in Esterhazy — a 30 minute commute, twice a day — but got help from a local teacher when both she and her husband are busy at work.

The way the new daycare came to be was through a survey, which showed 10 to 20 families within the area. With the additional space, those families should be covered for childcare once the new school year rolls around.

It was all created through a federal program, which covers up to $8,000 worth of start up costs, along with funded monthly operating fees, start up grants and grants for both families and certified education workers.

The Good Spirit School Division promises to keep rent low for the group, and is at little to no cost on its part.

“We are fortunate we have extra space in our building,” said Grayson School Principal, Sara Campbell. “It was a no brainer, when we could offer up some real estate to get the daycare going. The benefits for having a daycare in the school far outweigh any complexities that may arise.”

Campbell said families have had to leave the community in the past, due to a lack of childcare. Having the facility within the walls of the school was not the first option, but it may be one of the best options, Campbell added.

“It will have such a positive impact on the early learning for our students as they enter kindergarten, and beyond. And it’s going to help set them up for success in education, right from the get go,” she said.

The new project will look to not just attract new families to the small Saskatchewan community, but also give existing families more reasons to stay, and in turn, help the local economy.

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