A new, expanded childcare facility at Regional Connections has made all the difference for parents wanting to learn English after settling in the Pembina Valley.

"It's very difficult if you have kids at home, it's not possible," Kateryna Semenofva explains. "We can stay and study English... we can leave our children knowing it's a safe place. It's very nice."

She notes it puts their minds at ease knowing their children are in the same building while they're in class. "That's so important to parents, your children are close, you can see them and you don't worry."

Regional Connections recently renovated a newly acquired portion of the building at 2-295 Perry St, Winkler, transforming it into a daycare centre.

Semenofva moved to Winkler from Ukraine five years ago and says her three young children can't wait to arrive at Regional Connections. "I have to say thank you to everyone who works at Regional Connections and the people who offer childcare, they do an amazing job."

Yasmin Alabboud arrived in Canada from Syria three years ago and says it can be difficult to study with children and agrees the expanded childcare services have been a huge help.

Care For Newcomer Children Coordinator Diane Toews says the recent expansion to offer childcare for infants starting at six months of age has also made a big difference, "a lot of parents were really excited because when they're waiting... for their child to reach 18 months it's a long time of not taking class."

Executive Director Steve Reynolds notes that shift can turn the language learning process for mothers with multiple children into a 1-3 year process from a 5-8 year process. "So that's a huge impact."

Toews notes a lot of mothers especially can become isolated at home with children, "they don't know the language and they don't know what to do or where to go, this just opens up so many opportunities for them."

Currently, the daycare sees 34 children on a regular basis, and Toews says it's also preparing them for kindergarten, as well as learning English.

The expansion was thanks to a $60,000 grant from Manitoba Sustainable Communities, as well as support from IRCC, the Thomas Sill Foundation and locally from Access Credit Union and the Winkler Community Foundation. Reynolds notes their regular funding isn't eligible for renovations, "so it wouldn't be possible without them."