With no $10 per day child care centres in the North Coast, MLA Jennifer Rice is wanting local child care providers to take advantage of the provincial government’s recent July 20 application announcement for low-cost prototype child care centres.
The province announced work is underway to expand the 2018 decision of 50 provincial universal child care prototype sites, which were approved for operation through the Canada British Columbia Early Learning Child Care Agreement (ELCC). This partnership allows 2,500 provincial licenced child care spaces to be converted to low-cost spaces at already existing facilities.
There are currently four $10-a-day sites in northern B.C. but none in Haida Gwaii, Bella Coola or west of Houston.
“I shared the expansion news on my social media channels to encourage child care providers in the North Coast to apply,” Rice told Blacl Press Media.
For the 2021 expansion, application priority will be given to non-profit/public organizations, Indigenous-led, and home-based child care in locations where $10-a-day child care is not available. As of July 20, 2021, child care operators in receipt of Child Care Operating Funding for at least two years may apply to join the program. Applications will be accepted until August 31, 2021.
“When the Universal Child Care Prototype site program initially launched in 2018, we received an over whelming response from prospective candidates. Prototype sites were selected through an application process, supported by an expert panel to ensure that the diversity of British Columbia’s geography, population, child care program types and child care operational models — were represented.
Current sites in Northern B.C. are: Ruby’s Place Family Daycare in Quesnel, the Beanstalk Childcare Centre in Houston, Little Angels Daycare in Burns Lake, and the YMCA Highland Development Centre in Prince George.
The Universal Child Care Prototype program is to help understand the best way to provide funding to child care operators over the long term, so fees can be reduced for parents and ensure early care and learning professionals are well compensated, the MLA said.
“We’ve learned a lot over the last three years and expanding to new facilities will allow us to continue to learn from a larger pool of child care providers.”
Rice said Childcare BC is a 10-year plan to deliver inclusive, universal child care to B.C. families. Improving access to child care supports the economic recovery by creating more opportunities for parents – particularly mothers – to go back to work or school and gives kids the best possible start.
“Building an inclusive universal child care system is the largest social policy shift our province has seen in decades and it will take time to get it right for families. Building a new social program is a huge undertaking, especially with such a diverse child care sector,” Rice said.
Starting by the end of the year, the short term plan is to have an additional 4,000 spaces at $10 per day for families, with an expectation of an additional 12,500 $10 spaces in communities across B.C. by December 2022
In a five-year plan the provincial government in partnership with the Government of Canada, is working toward having B.C. parents of children under six years old pay an average of $10-a-day by 2026.
“Our approach balances the need to build a sustainable system over the long term, with the urgent need to improve families’ access to quality, affordable and inclusive child care now,” Rice said. “It’s always been part of our vision to have a child care system in B.C. that is flexible enough to meet the unique needs of families and communities now and for generations to come.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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