Little Phoenix Daycare – one of Canada’s first trauma-informed daycare

October 2, 2020 / by United Way

United Way, Family Services of Greater Victoria and VIRCS enter partnership to raise funds for Little Phoenix Daycare

Once completed, the daycare will create a safe space for Greater Victoria children facing early adversity and trauma

 Victoria, BC (October 2, 2020) – United Way Greater Victoria (UWGV), in partnership with Family Services of Greater Victoria (FSGV) and Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS), is raising funds to complete construction on the Little Phoenix Daycare, furnish the facility, and fill the shelves with books and toys to bring the space to life.

Once built, the daycare will provide a safe haven for young children in Greater Victoria who have experienced/are experiencing high levels of stress and trauma in their young lives, which may be related to family violence, sexual, psychological, physical and emotional abuse and/or traumatizing experiences such as living in a refugee camp.

“Helping children and families has been at the root of our work since our inception. In learning of the concept, we immediately mobilized to learn more and develop plans in order to stand beside FSGV and VIRCS to ensure every child’s right to feel safe could be fulfilled,” said Mark Breslauer, CEO of United Way Greater Victoria. “We are asking our donors, partners and members of the community at large to join us in making a difference in the lives of children looking for better tomorrows.”

The Daycare will have staff equipped to assist children and families – trauma counsellors, art therapists and other childhood experts supporting children in a peaceful, therapeutic setting. The curriculum will be tailored to create a sense of safety and belonging for children and their parents or primary caregivers. Little Phoenix trauma-informed daycare will be one of the first of its kind in Canada.

“It’s really difficult to get an appointment with a child psychologist. Locally it can take up to a year and that’s a lifetime for a little one. By having wrap around services on hand at Little Phoenix, we can address a child’s need immediately and figure out the best course of support. We are thrilled United Way saw the value in this project and wanted to step up to help in the development and fundraise,” said Jane Taylor Lee, Executive Director of FSGV.

When children have trauma in their early formative years that is unresolved it can have lifelong effects on their health, wellbeing and quality of life. There are high correlations between teen/adult suicides, incarceration, divorce, and family violence – so taking care of kids is one of the most important things we can do as a community.

“Creating truly innovative social programs happens when the most effective organizations partner with foundations who see both the roots of community needs and understand which agencies are change-makers. Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre and Family Services of Greater Victoria are both highly effective organizations partnered to make fundamental changes for children who need help. All the generous people who support United Way, are truly enabling us to create a therapeutic daycare that will stop negative cycles before they begin, in early childhood,” said David Lau, Executive Director of VIRCS.

The design and start-up of Little Phoenix Daycare is being informed and supported through a research partnership with the School of Child & Youth Care at the University of Victoria, led by Dr. Alison Gerlach. This research is using existing evidence to help inform decision-making about the daycare and will also be generating new knowledge about designing and delivering a trauma-informed daycare program. Little Phoenix will also be a practicum site for students in the School of Child & Youth Care who are specializing in early years programming.

“Little Phoenix Daycare is an opportunity for us to, not only support children who for whatever reason are experiencing stress and trauma in their lives and but also to make a valuable contribution towards supporting the design and delivery of other trauma informed daycares in BC and Canada,” said Dr. Gerlach.

As a result of COVID-19, domestic violence and family breakdown is on the rise. Relationships are strained because of a lack of certainty about the future and potential job loss. Children are often caught in the middle underscoring the need for a daycare like this.

The first five years lay the foundation for a child’s life. No child should be left behind. Your donations can make a real difference.

About United Way Greater Victoria

United Way is a trusted leader, influencer and catalyst for change. In response to COVID-19, we are focusing our efforts on urgent community needs such as mental health outreach services and counselling, meals and companionship for isolated seniors, and essentials for families in need. United, we accelerate change to improve the lives of our neighbours who need it most, making our local community stronger. We believe everyone in Greater Victoria should have the opportunity to reach their potential. Our vision is to build a safe and resilient community where happiness and belonging connect us. Last fiscal year United Way raised $4.7 million thanks to over 7,000 donors and over 250 workplaces opening their offices to run employee giving programs. These funds allowed United Way to support over 90,000 people. Show your local love today by making a gift to United Way at

Media Contact

Heather Skydt
United Way Greater Victoria
Director Marketing and Communications
Mobile: 250-686-3606
Office: 250-984-2269