Casual childcare a valuable resource

Leah Smith and Daniel O'Regan

Leah Smith and son Daniel O’Regan enjoy the MFRC casual child care service.

Some might view it as babysitting to give the at-home parent a break.

But for other people, the MFRC’s Casual Child Care service is helping young children from military families connect with other children in a meaningful way.

Leah Smith and her husband LCdr Danny O’Regan have moved four times since 2006, including this past June from the United Kingdom to Esquimalt. Both of them grew up close to their families in Newfoundland and had to reinvent that makeshift support system with each posting.   

“When you move regularly, you have to work hard to become part of the community,” says Smith on moving into a new area.  “Having the MFRC around makes the transition much easier.”

Leah brings her two-year-old son Daniel to Casual Child Care at the Lampson Street location. It has given the parents a break while they do some renovations on their home, but Smith thinks her son is really benefitting from the experience.

“It’s an easy way to get out and help your child create a community,” says Smith. “It is important for children to have the opportunity to try new things in a safe and nurturing atmosphere.”

She wasn’t always able find something that she was comfortable with, but gave the MFRC child care on Lampson Street an opportunity. The MFRC provides her son a well-structured program in a very secure environment. Leah believes that it helps her son develop important skills. The experience allows him to develop a sense of independence. He tries new things and meets new friends. Afterwards, he talks about his friends and how he “plays and shares” at playschool. He talks to her about the care providers and even sings the cleanup song he learned.  

“It’s a great place to take him. I can leave with peace of mind knowing he is going to learn and have fun,” says Smith.

Linda Scott, program manager at the MFRC, thinks it is great the service is having a positive effect on the children.

“It’s a testament to the dedicated teachers we have,” says Scott of the staff that work in Casual Child Care. “There is a lot of planning that goes into each session. Every day has a new theme. There are art activities, story time and outdoor play.”

Smith agrees staff make it a great experience, saying each child “gets a warm welcome” and they really “enjoy spending time with your child.”

Casual Child Care is available Tuesdays to Fridays at the Colwood Pacific Activity Centre and Lampson School. The service is available at a cost of $9 for a three-hour session for ages six months to five years. Parents can book up to one week in advance, a maximum of two times per week. To learn more about casual child care, call the Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre at 250-363-2640 or visit

-Jon Chabun, MFRC

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