Financial troubles blamed for mid-year preschool closure

Willoughby Junction parents offered to help fundraise to keep program until June

Willoughby Junction Preschool is closing its doors in the middle of the school year.

The preschool was ‘bleeding’ money, which the non-profit Langley Child Development Centre could no longer afford, said Dan Collins, interim executive director of LCDC. It will close at the end of the month.

“We lost $60,000 last year. It’s an issue of finances and nothing more,” said Collins. “We know the parents and the kids loved it. This was a difficult decision to come to.”

Parent Cam Padda said the closure leaves all the children in the preschool with nowhere to go in the middle of the school year. Parents had hoped it could stay open until June.

“This is not easy on the kids. Why did they even let us enrol this year?” Padda asked.

Padda moved from Surrey to Willoughby and once he and his wife met with the teachers at Willoughby Junction Preschool, he knew it was the perfect place for his kids.

“These are exceptional teachers,” Padda said.

“We have offered to fundraise or pay more to keep it going until June but so far have heard ‘no.’”

Collins recognizes the timing isn’t great and it is difficult to get into another preschool mid year.

“We have offered two months in funding and assistance to connect parents with other locations,” he said.

The preschool, which runs inside the new Early Years Centre at Willoughby Elementary, was only allowed 17 spots under government rules. But even then, they were never full.

The preschool program runs only two hours each day.

“The trend is preschool programs are now embedded into daycare centres because most (families) in Willoughby have both parents working, which means they can’t do a traditional preschool,” said Collins. “But having said that, it is most regrettable.”

Padda, whose niece also attends the preschool, points out that the growth in the area is mainly from young families moving in.

“It will get busier and the need will be there in the future.”

The Early Years Centre continues to function as it has, with no other programs closing.

The centre is home to Strong Start, Infant Development Play Group, Spanish Parenting Program —- Family Time, Family Place North  (formally located at Walnut Grove Community Centre), Mental Health and Township of Langley recreation programs.

This centre, on of only 12 in B.C., supports families with children aged 0-6, offering a variety of programs and services all under one roof. Langley Township was selected to try the pilot concept in 2014.

Willoughby Early Years Centre is a partnership between the Langley Early Childhood Development Committee, School District 35, Langley Community Services, Aldergrove Neighbourhood Services, and Langley Child Development Centre, with the support of the Township of Langley and many Langley service providers.