Opening soon in the heart of the North Park neighbourhood is a very special, one-of-a-kind child care centre called Little Phoenix. It is the first trauma-informed daycare of its kind in Canada, with access to in-house art therapists, trauma counsellors, behavior interventionists and other human service professionals for children who need extra support. A trauma-informed approach recognizes the transgenerational nature of trauma and the connections between traumatic experiences and negative health outcomes and behaviours. The goal of trauma-informed care is to minimize the potential for harm and retraumatization, which is beneficial for all children, regardless of their early childhood experiences.
Little Phoenix is a non-profit social enterprise, located in the Victoria Social Innovation Centre at 1004 North Park Street. The construction and design of this brand new facility was based on trauma-informed principles, which influenced everything from the physical layout of the space, to the soft colours of the walls, to the materials of the furniture and toys. Another unique aspect of Little Phoenix is that it serves as an official research and practicum site for the University of Victoria’s School of Child and Youth Care. The research conducted at Little Phoenix will be used to inform this innovative child care program and shed light on the best practices and ways to support young children and their families. It is also our hope that the work done by the research team will lead to changes in social policy and inform the general public about the value of incorporating trauma-informed policies and practices in early childhood education and elsewhere.
The child care centre was a passion project of two partnered non-profit organizations that are located in the same building: Family Services of Greater Victoria (FSGV) and Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS). Family Services provides professional counselling and resource services, including mediation and facilitated access for approximately 600 children and families who have experienced trauma, including newcomer populations and populations who experience racialization and other forms of structural marginalization. VIRCS is an agency for new immigrants and refugees that services over 3000 newcomers annually with specialized settlement services including children’s programming and women’s services. After years of collaboration and hard work, and with significant funding from the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the United Way of Southern Vancouver Island, Family Services and VIRCS’s vision of an innovative and inclusive trauma-informed child care centre has come to fruition. Little Phoenix will soon be licensed to care for children from 30 months to 5 years of age, and certified Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) and ECE Assistants with specialized trauma-informed training will provide them with a supportive, emotionally-safe environment where they will thrive.
Learn more about Little Phoenix at www.littlephoenixchildcare.ca