ROBERTVILLE (CNB) - A new early childhood development centre being established in Robertville will provide integrated services to preschool children and their families, Social Development Minister Mary Schryer announced today.

The centre at École élémentaire La Croisée de Robertville will be operated by a non-profit board of directors, with support from the provincial government. The centre will serve as a neighbourhood hub where parents and their children will have access to a diverse range of programs.

"Our government is committed to helping young children build the lifelong foundations of learning so they can be ready for success in life," said Schryer, who visited the site of the new centre. "This is an example of government working in partnership with community-based organizations to deliver integrated and high-quality early childhood services to parents and children."

The centre will open this fall. The provincial government has announced that three other centres will also open this fall, at the Baptist-King Edward School (Saint John), École Sainte-Bernadette (Moncton), and Bath Middle School (Bath).

Staff at each centre will deliver programming to parents and children. Core programming will include full- and part-time child care, as well as parent and child drop-in programs and playgroups. Immunization clinics, healthy-lifestyle programs, toy and resource lending libraries, and clinics for three-and-a-half-year-olds may also be offered, based on local needs.

"There is compelling research that shows integrated child development programs improve outcomes for children by providing a strong foundation for learning, behaviour and health that continues through the school years and into adulthood," said Schryer.

The four sites were selected as part of a call for proposals for the piloting of early childhood development centres in both rural and urban anglophone and francophone communities during the next three years.

Social Development is providing $100,000 in annual funding for each of the four centres for the duration of the pilot. The departments of Education; Health; and Wellness, Culture and Sport will also be involved in evaluation of the sites, and will collaborate on programming with non-profit boards of directors, based on local needs.

Establishing early childhood development centres is part of the provincial government's commitment to provide better support to families and young children in local communities as part of Be Ready for Success: A 10-year Early Childhood Strategy for New Brunswick.