Your community needs more childcare spaces – and starting a childcare co-operative is a great way to create them.   

We’ve seen leaders come together and build these spaces themselves, making sure local families have the support they need. We also know that finding the money for a new childcare centre is an intimidating prospect.   

Luckily, there’s help. The Government of Saskatchewan provides up to $10,000 per childcare space created, the Government of Alberta up to $6,000 per space, and in Manitoba, the government provides up to 60% of the capital costs. Other grants and supports are also available.   

While this support is helpful, these funds won’t cover all the costs of a ready-to-operate childcare centre – whether you need to build a new facility or renovate an existing space. That means it’s up to the co-op’s members to fundraise the rest. But don’t worry – we’ve got some tips and tricks to help.   

1. Partner with your local government 

 When it comes to building a childcare centre, getting local government on your side will save lots of time. Keeping your town/city/First Nation council and administration up to date can help speed up approving permits, expanding infrastructure, and zoning. And don’t be afraid to ask for a contribution. Requesting that your municipality donate land, waive property taxes, or contribute funds to support the co-op will help move things along. And it’s a win-win since the town can market itself as having an affordable childcare co-op.   

In some cases, like in Maple Creek, local government leads the development of a childcare co-op. Since childcare is integral to the growth of any community, there’s a strong incentive for municipalities to lend support to a childcare initiative and help build a new centre.   

2. Leverage your networks to secure donations

Every co-op’s most valuable asset is its members. The people who are going to benefit from a childcare co-op are the ones most likely to help it grow and thrive. That’s why most childcare co-ops rely on their members to support their fundraising efforts. This could include organizing a raffle, bake sales, auctions, steak nights, or simply making donations.   

The team at Beansprouts Childcare Co-op in Saskatoon rallied a team of amazing volunteers to organize fundraisers to help cover their start-up costs.   

Donations are also a great way to gather the small things your childcare co-op needs to be successful, like books, toys, and games – which worked well for the Smoky Lake Community Childcare Co-op. Consider starting a wish list and ask your community to help gather the things the co-op needs.    

3. Find a flexible financial partner

Construction and large-scale renovations are expensive. Even with community and government support, your co-op may still need a mortgage or loan to cover remaining start-up costs, like buying a building.   

Do some due diligence here and find a financial institution that can work with your timelines. Ask your lender if they can be flexible on when repayments start and if they can cover some operational expenses beyond capital requirements. A good lender will help you out because they want you to succeed.   

We can help!  

Building a childcare co-op is a lot of work, but you don’t have to go it alone. Our team of experts are ready to give you the support you need to get started. And, there’s no cost for our services. Co-operatives First has received funding from PrairiesCan to support the creation of new childcare co-ops. That covers incorporation support, business planning, connections to service providers, governance training, and submitting your application for funding. Check out our childcare resource page to get started!