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Daughter takes over Coquitlam school daycare from mother, expands to meet Burke Mountain's demand

Leigh Elementary will be able to accommodate 54 children in before and after school program, an increase of 30 spaces in a community where childcare is in high demand
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Andrea Howorth and her mom, Jacinta Howard, outside Leigh Elementary in Coquitlam where a before and after school program is expanding to care for 54 children in kindergarten to Grade 5.

Families seeking before and after school care in one of Coquitlam’s fastest-growing neighbourhoods will now have more options thanks to the expansion of child care at Leigh Elementary.

And when they arrive, they’ll see Andrea Howorth at the door welcoming them to the 2021-22 school year.

Howorth is taking over management and ownership of Leigh School Daycare from her mom, Jancinta Howard, who ran the before and after school programs in the Burke Mountain neighbourhood school for 20 years.

The Tri-City News caught up with the mother and daughter team as they put the finishing touches to the transition plan that will see Andrea expand the program from 24 to 54 children as she takes over management of the childcare program.

“This provides some certainty for families,” said Howorth, who said the program for kindergarten to Grade Five students has been in high demand among working parents.

School District 43 (SD43), Fraser Health and city officials all signed off on the expanded program in time for registration for the new school year.

It’s a dream come true for Howorth, who helmed the I Am Someone Ending Bullying Society in Port Coquitlam for several years. Although she’ll miss the galas, fundraising and other challenges of running a non-profit, Howorth is looking forward to the new opportunity.

And she’s had a great mentor to help her with her career change — her mom.

“For the past year I’ve been the manager that helped me learn the ropes,” Howard said.

Meanwhile, her mom is pleased to hand over the responsibilities although she said she will miss the kids.

Howard speculated that she provided care to hundreds of children over the years, including youngsters who attended her family child care operation that she ran in her home from 1993 to 2017.

“I met some wonderful children,” Howard told the Tri-City News, “They are all special in their own way. It was wonderful to watch them grow and move on to middle school.”

Operating a daycare in Coquitlam’s Burke Mountain neighbourhood hasn’t been without challenges. At the beginning there were only four children in the program, then the community grew with new development and, soon, there wasn’t enough room for all the children who needed before and after school care.

“I was blessed,” said Howard, remembering how school staff worked hard to keep the program running, recounting how one teacher moved into a portable to free up space in a classroom for the daycare.

Now, her daughter credits the current school principal, Andrea Hunter, for being supportive so the program could expand to meet the need.

With the school providing gym space and the outdoor playground and undercover areas, Leigh School Daycare will be able to accommodate all the children in an expanded program that will include a lot of free play and outdoor games.

As her mom leaves Leigh School Daycare for a well-deserved retirement, Howorth said she is gearing up for a busy and exciting new chapter in her life.

For more information about Leigh School Daycare, you're encouraged to send an inquiry to