IROQUOIS – The relocation of the Ontario Early Years Centre in Iroquois has led to hope that the community organization has better secured its foothold in the seaway village, and throughout Dundas County.
It comes at time when the organization’s funding provider has changed, switching from the longtime model with the Glengarry Inter-agency Group to the City of Cornwall, thanks to alterations at the provincial level.
The news first broke in April, and since then there has been some uncertainty about what the change would mean.
Already, Early Years programming is offered at a primary facility in Winchester’s Community Care Building, while space is rented from the Municipality of South Dundas at its Morrisburg headquarters.
Iroquois’ location had been at the village’s public school, but an increase in the student population forced them out, and there was some belief the centre was gone for good.
Cue the Thurs., Sept. 21 unveiling at Seaway District High School, and the Early Years has a home once more.
“We had so many anxieties in the past year about the potential closure of the high school, so to see partnerships being made is great,” Mayor Evonne Delegarde said. “It does give some security for the school to continue. It’s a great relationship to have, and we need each other equally.”
Fiona Carr, a family resource co-ordinator with the agency, said the funding change was an immediate red flag for many staffers, some who were concerned that sites would be consolidated and jobs would be lost.
Last week’s turnout, however, eased some fears.
“I’m very happy to see the crowd… It makes me a little teary, actually,” she said. “We’re excited to have a long-term home here.”
According to Carr, the agency has been informed that things will continue operating as it always has for at least the next year.
“The city will be monitoring the programming, and the number of people taking part,” she said. “It’s important to continue to look at the services offered, and determine the best way to do what they are going to do.”
For Amy Barton, who brought her one-year-old son Ben to the Sept. 21 event, the playgroup serves as connector for not only her youngster, but also herself.
“This place has introduced to me to my mom friends, and they are actually my best friends now,” she said. “It’s a good way to get out of the house, and it lets my son explore. It’s nice to have so many others around.”