181 new child care spaces opening in Northumberland this year

Cobourg, ON – June 20, 2024 – In response to the growing demand for licensed child care in the community, County Council received an update from the Social Services Committee yesterday regarding plans to open 181 new spaces at licensed child care centres in Northumberland this year.

This expansion effort, funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario, will aim to address the shortage of licensed child care spaces in three high priority areas in Northumberland, ensuring that more families have access to the quality care their children need. The expansion will include 119 new spaces in the Municipality of Port Hope, 47 new spaces in the Municipality of Trent Hills and 15 new spaces in the Town of Cobourg.

“We have recently seen a surge in demand for licensed child care in Northumberland,” states County Early Years Manager Lesley Patterson. “In 2023, we experienced a 60% increase in the waitlist for licensed child care spaces, with approximately 3,000 families currently on the waitlist. To help address this critical need in our community, Northumberland County is aiming to introduce 404 new high-quality, affordable, flexible and inclusive early learning and child care spaces in our community by 2026, in alignment with Provincial targets identified through the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) system.”

In partnership with the Municipality of Port Hope, Northumberland County is pursuing renovations to the Ruth Clarke Activity Centre and Canton Hub to introduce two new child care locations in Port Hope. The Ruth Clarke Activity Centre location, planned in partnership with the Ganaraska Child Care Centre and located at 81 Mill Street South, will support 70 new child care spaces by fall 2024. The Canton Hub will be renovated to accommodate 49 new spaces, located at 5325 County Road 10. This location is planned in partnership with YMCA Northumberland and is expected to open in winter 2024.

Renovation plans are also underway to introduce 47 new spaces in Warkworth in collaboration with YMCA Northumberland. These spaces, located at 161 Old Hastings Road, are expected to open in fall 2024.

In addition, 15 ‘family age grouping’ spaces will be introduced to the Northumberland Centre for Individual Studies in Cobourg in 2024, to offer a new child care space, serving diverse age ranges. This family age group centre, which will be located at 700 D'Arcy Street, will promote children of different ages to learn together and support families with children of different ages to receive care at the same facility. 

While the County recognizes that all communities in Northumberland have unique needs and demands relating to child care, these three locations were identified in the County’s Directed Growth Plan and Early Learning and Child Care Service Plan as high priority areas based on existing capacity, demand, community demographics, projected growth and socio-economic factors.

These initiatives grow upon efforts that began last year, with the introduction of 10 new infant child care spaces at the Brighton Children’s Centre in 2023, in partnership with Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. These expansion efforts, which will continue into 2026, underscore the commitment from all levels of government and local child care operators to support families and foster vital early childhood development opportunities in the community.