In February 2018, the B.C. government announced a three-year, $1-billion investment through the Childcare BC plan – the most significant child care investment in B.C.'s history.
That investment continued in Budget 2020, with $1.4 billion for Childcare BC, bringing the total investment in child care programs to $2 billion over three years. Childcare BC has three key pillars: affordability, accessibility and quality: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare
Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative (CCFRI): Introduced in April 2018, the CCFRI helps lower the cost of child care for parents at approved licensed child care facilities by up to $350 a month, per child. To date, nearly 64,000 child care spaces have been approved for a reduction, with the Province providing more than $284 million since the program launched in April 2018. Providers who have been approved for the initiative are listed online at: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/optin
Affordable Child Care Benefit (ACCB): Introduced in September 2018, the ACCB saves eligible parents up to $1,250 a month, per child. Families earning up to $111,000 a year may be eligible for savings. As of January 2021, approximately 46,000 families have received some level of support through the benefit, helping to put more than $416 million back into parents’ pockets so far: www.gov.bc.ca/affordablechildcarebenefit
Universal Child Care Prototype Sites: Under the Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) agreement with the Government of Canada, the B.C. government is investing $91 million over three years to create and maintain Universal Child Care Prototype Sites throughout B.C. Launched in fall 2018, this project has converted approximately 2,500 child care spaces at more than 50 licensed child care facilities into low-cost spaces that offer child care at a cost of $10 a day, or less, per child: www.gov.bc.ca/childcareprototypesites
Taken together, the CCFRI, ACCB and the Universal Child Care Prototype Sites are already making a significant difference for B.C. parents. Through B.C.’s combined affordability initiatives, more than 36,000 children have received child care for $10 a day or less since the beginning of the Childcare BC plan.
Childcare BC New Spaces Fund: Launched in July 2018, the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund helps improve access to child care throughout the province by supporting the creation of new licensed spaces over the next three years. Since the program’s inception, the ministry has invested $194 million in new, licensed child care spaces: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/newspacesfund
Start-Up Grants: In June 2018, the B.C. government launched the $1.5-million Start-Up Grant program, which supports individuals and unlicensed child care providers to become licensed. Applicants can apply for funding to help them cover the costs of becoming licensed, including training and application fees for licensing, hiring replacement staff while taking a course and buying equipment for a child care facility. Becoming licensed allows providers to care for more children and helps enhance the quality of child care throughout B.C. As of January 2021, more than 500 providers have received grants: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/startupgrants
More than 20,000 new licensed child care spaces have been approved for funding across Childcare BC’s space-creation initiatives, with more to come.
Childcare BC Maintenance Fund: Introduced in May 2018, the Childcare BC Maintenance Fund helps eligible child care providers by offering funding to help with necessary repairs, replace equipment or help cover relocation costs due to emergency circumstances that impact children’s health and safety or may result in facility closure. Since the program’s inception, the ministry has invested more than $5 million to support over 1,500 facilities: www.gov.bc.ca/ccmaintenancefund
A key goal under Childcare BC is to improve the quality of B.C.’s child care system through enhanced supports for early childhood educators (ECEs) and other child care professionals.
Enhancing the quality of child care will be achieved by improving training and development opportunities, as well as addressing long-standing issues around wages and recruitment in the sector.
Early Care and Learning Recruitment and Retention Strategy: ECEs play a key role in the Province’s 10-year plan to deliver quality child care to B.C. families. In September 2018, the Province launched an Early Care and Learning Recruitment and Retention Strategy that lays out key aspects of the quality pillar of Childcare BC: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/ecestrategy
ECE Wage Enhancement: Beginning September 2019, ECEs working in licensed child care facilities became eligible for a wage enhancement of $1 per hour, which increased to $2 per hour in April 2020. To date, the Province has invested over $51 million to provide more than 13,000 ECEs with a wage enhancement.
ECE Education Support Fund: In September 2018, in partnership with the Early Childhood Educators of BC, the Province announced an enhanced bursary program for students enrolled in early childhood education programs at recognized post-secondary institutions in B.C.
The Province has made significant investments to improve supports for B.C.’s early care and learning professionals, including investing approximately $16 million, through ELCC, to provide roughly 8,000 bursaries and workforce-development supports for students pursuing a career in child care. An additional $5.2 million is available to ECE students for the 2020-21 academic year: www.ecebc.ca/programs/student_bursary.html
In November 2018, the Province announced a $3.6-million investment to support new early learning and child care planning and Métis navigator positions. These positions help Indigenous early years and child care providers develop and deliver programming that meets the unique needs of Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) children and families.
Professional development funding: In March 2019, the Ministry of Children and Family Development announced a $6.3-million investment through ELCC to improve access to professional development opportunities for early care and learning professionals. Six organizations have used this funding to expand and improve the availability of professional learning opportunities, including: the online Early Years Professional Development Hub; bursaries for access to communities of practice, workshops and conferences; and access to post-secondary education for Indigenous students.
Early Childhood Pedagogy Network: In January 2020, the Ministry of Children and Family Development expanded this professional learning opportunity to more ECEs throughout the province. Child care professionals now have access to more than 50 teaching specialists – known as pedagogists – in child care programs and post-secondary programs throughout the province, helping them stay up to date with the latest early childhood education philosophies and practices.
Post-secondary seat expansion: To increase training and development opportunities for ECEs throughout the province, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training has invested $7.4 million over the past three years (2018-2021) to fund an additional 895 ECE student seats at B.C.’s public post-secondary institutions. Additionally, B.C.’s economic recovery plan has created targeted training opportunities, which included $1.26 million for 108 public post-secondary student seats in early childhood educator programs.
Investments under Childcare BC are complemented by the Province’s three-year, $156-million ELCC with the Government of Canada, which was signed in February 2018. B.C. worked with the Government of Canada to negotiate a one-year, $52.6-million extension to the ELCC agreement until March 31, 2021.
The following outlines ELCC investments, in addition to the Childcare BC investments outlined above.
Aboriginal Head Start: The B.C. government is investing $40 million over four years to expand Aboriginal Head Start programs throughout the province, with more than 30 communities benefiting from more than 600 new licensed child care and early learning spaces. These programs provide culturally based, inclusive child care and early learning, family bonding and prevention services. Services are available to families at no cost.
Aboriginal Head Start at-home-sites: www.fnha.ca/what-we-do/maternal-child-and-family-health/aboriginal-head-start-on-reserve
Aboriginal Head Start away-from-home sites: www.ahsabc.com
Young Parent Program: In May 2018, the B.C. government announced an additional $3 million over three years – on top of its annual funding of $1.6 million – to boost the monthly funding amount available to eligible young parents to up to $1,500 a month per child. The increase in funding helps serve the child care needs of approximately 100 young-parent families per year: https://news.gov.bc.ca/17176
Supported Child Development: Under ELCC, the Province is investing $40 million over four years to make child care more inclusive. This funding means more children have access to Supported Child Development and Aboriginal Supported Child Development programming throughout the province: https://news.gov.bc.ca/18343
The federal government has committed to negotiating continued ELCC funding for 2021-22.
COVID-19 child care supports
Temporary Emergency Funding: Between April 1 and Aug. 31, 2020, the Province provided nearly $320 million to child care operators to protect child care spaces. Temporary Emergency Funding was provided regardless of whether families chose to temporarily withdraw their child or if an operator chose to temporarily close a centre. B.C. was the only jurisdiction in Canada to support child care in this way.
B.C.’s recovery plan committed a total of $56 million in funding to support child care providers and families through three funding initiatives, outlined below: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/caring-for-young-children/investment-in-child-care
Health and safety grants: One-time grant funding was made available to open, licensed child care providers to offset the additional costs of operating safely during the pandemic. A total of $35 million in funding was available and successful applicants received their grant in December 2020.
Child Care Rapid Renovation Fund: A total of $6 million is available to school boards, post-secondary institutions and health authorities to quickly create more licensed child care spaces. The funding supports ready-to-go renovations at public facilities. The application period closes on March 12, 2021: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/caring-for-young-children/investment-in-child-care/rapid-renovation-fund
Aboriginal Head Start Land-based Project: Existing Aboriginal Head Start sites are receiving a total of $10 million to restore, refurbish or develop outdoor cultural early learning environments. The funding will help Aboriginal Head Start sites provide more opportunities for physical activity and outdoor land-based early learning and recreation for Indigenous children.