The Little Phoenix Daycare is currently under construction with help from a grant from the Ministry for Children and Family Development. This new facility is located in the Victoria Social Innovation Centre building at 1004 North Park Street, that houses the partner agencies Family Services of Greater Victoria(FSGV) and the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre(VIRCS). The United Way has partnered with FSGV and VIRCS to help raise funds to complete construction of the Little Phoenix Daycare, furnish the facility, fill the shelves with books and toys to bring the space to life. The architect is Alan Lowe, the designer is Western Interior Design.
The Little Phoenix daycare is the first trauma-informed child care program in Canada, and as our research indicates, the first in North America.
The concept of The Little Phoenix Daycare is to create a daycare with staff trained to identify behaviours and emotional triggers that may indicate past or current/ongoing trauma for verbal and pre-verbal children who are from populations that have endured situational or personal trauma. The staff will consult with our in-house childhood trauma counsellors, art therapists and other childhood development experts who will help design play therapies and practices to support the child and ensure full-day care that supports the therapies in a setting that is peaceful, therapeutic but otherwise looks like a regular daycare facility. VIRCS and FSGV both have expertise working with and supporting children and families who have experienced trauma, including newcomer populations and populations who experience racialization and other forms of structural marginalization.
The intended referral model will grant several spaces to our human service partner agencies who work with populations who are transitioning serious life changes such as divorce, family violence, historical violence, significant health issues. Our intention is to reduce multi-faceted factors that can lead to mental health problems: addictions, violence. The development of such a service is the response needed to directly address the pressing issue of unidentified and unaddressed childhood trauma in pre-verbal children and children under 5 yrs of age. Our human service partner agencies will be able to refer clients who have childcare needs. The referred families will need to be eligible for BC daycare subsidy.
The goal is to design and deliver an innovative child care program that is inclusive of and responsive to the priorities, concerns and needs of parents and children who are experiencing, have experienced, various forms of structural and interpersonal violence and/or trauma. Also, the goal is to expand on the current understandings of how to : support child care staff to be responsive to families from diverse socio-cultural contexts, reduce environmental triggers for young children, provide seamless access to tailored therapeutic interventions for children, including art/play therapies and improve access for families to health and social services.
For this project, the Little Phoenix Daycare is also partnering with Dr. Alison Gerlach (Assistant Professor and project’s lead researcher- University of Victoria ‘s School for Child and Youth Care, Faculty of Human and Social Development), Dr. Mandeep Kaur Mucina (Assistant Professor) and Jin-Sun Yoon (Teaching Professor). This will allow BC and Canada the opportunity to engage in evidence-based trauma-informed child care, which is in its infancy in Canada. The vision is that this trauma-informed child care program may include:
a) policies, practices and a physical environment that greatly reduce triggering situations;
b) planned capacity for over-night care for parents who are shift-workers;
c) Multi-linguistic and culturally appropriate supports for parents and children, and potential collaboration with the Ministry of Children n partnership with researchers from UVic’s Faculty of Human and Social Development, we believe that the research they will undertake will be the first of its kind in Canada to focus on the creation and delivery of an innovative, socially responsive and trauma-informed child care program. It is our hope that research in this area will greatly assist us in exploring, identifying and developing case management and focused intake approaches, staff engagement/training to identify and mitigate trauma-triggered behaviours, and the use of expressive arts therapy interventions. We hope that this model of child care has the potential to inform, to transform lives and to achieve long term child, family and societal benefits.
The business plan for the trauma-informed daycare is as a social enterprise of the Victoria Social Innovation Centre. It is budgeted to operate at a very modest surplus to ensure stability of programming, ability to cover facility costs and improvements and related expenses.
The Little Phoenix Daycare has the opportunity to be true leaders and transform lives.
- United Way, Family Services of Greater Victoria and VIRCS enter partnership to raise funds for Little Phoenix Daycare – Canada’s first trauma-informed daycare
- All Points West with Kathryn Marlow - Victoria's North Park Neighbourhood will soon be home to a daycare that specializes in supporting children who have been through traumatic experience