From 2018-21, the B.C. government has invested $2.2 billion in Childcare BC – the most significant child care investment in B.C.’s history.
That investment continued in Budget 2021, with an additional $233 million over three years. Over the next three years, the Province will invest more than $2.5 billion in Childcare BC, the 10-year plan to deliver affordable, quality and inclusive child care to B.C. families.
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. This year, the ministry has approved fee reductions for over 65,000 child care spaces at almost 3,500 child care facilities as of July 2021. The Province has provided more than $330 million in savings to parents since the program launched in April 2018. Child care providers approved to participate in the initiative are listed online: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/optin
Affordable Child Care Benefit (ACCB):
Introduced in September 2018, the ACCB saves families earning up to $111,000 a year up to $1,250 a month, per child. As of July 2021, an average of 32,400 children from over 25,400 families receive the Affordable Child Care Benefit each month. The program has put more than $411 million back into parents’ pockets: 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 funds 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. An additional 10,000 $10-a-day child care spaces are expected to be available by December 2022: www.gov.bc.ca/childcareprototypesites
Nearly 26,000 new licensed child care spaces have been approved for funding across Childcare BC’s space-creation initiatives, with more to come.
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. From 2018-21, the ministry invested $299 million in new licensed child care spaces: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/newspacesfund
Since June 2018, the B.C. government has invested $1.5 million in the 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 to enhance the quality of child care throughout B.C. As of July 2021, more than 580 providers have received grants: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/startupgrants
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 began, the ministry has invested over $5.3 million to support more than 1,600 facilities:
The Seamless Day pilot program integrates before- and after-school care into the classroom, giving students a single location of care throughout the day. The initial Seamless Day pilot began in the Okanagan-Similkameen School District in 2018 and has expanded to include four additional pilots in other school districts. Through the pilot, children are supported throughout the day by an early childhood educator (ECE), as well as by their teacher during regular classroom hours. Budget 2021 will expand the pilot program to an additional 20 B.C. school districts.
A key goal under Childcare BC is to improve the quality of B.C.’s child care system through enhanced supports for 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 in September 2018, 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. As of July 2021, an average of more than 9,200 ECEs have received monthly wage enhancements. To date, the Province has invested over $68 million in the program. Budget 2021 includes an additional $2 per hour, bringing the wage enhancement to $4 per hour for ECEs, which will raise their median wage to about $25 an hour.
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 the Canada-B.C. Early Learning and Care (ELCC) Agreement, 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 Nation, 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 –child care programs and post-secondary programs around the province, helping them to stay up to date with the latest early childhood education philosophies and practices.
Post-Secondary Seat Expansion:
Since 2018, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training (AEST) has invested $8.66 million over three years in ECE programs, funding a total of 1,003 additional student spaces at 13 public post-secondary institutions around the province. This includes $7.4 million for the three-year seat expansion, creating 895 student spaces, and, as part of B.C.’s 2020-21 Economic Recovery Plan, an additional $1.26 million supporting 108 more spaces. Budget 2021 includes investments to create 110 more seats at post-secondary institutions and more on-the-job training resources, bringing the total number of ECE seats created since the start of Childcare BC to more than 1,100.
Early Learning and Child Care Agreement
Investments under Childcare BC are complemented by the Province’s four-year (2021-22 – 2024-25), $272-million ELCC agreement with the Government of Canada, which was announced in August 2021. In addition, the Government of Canada is investing $48.8 million in 2021-22 to support B.C.’s ECE recruitment and retention efforts.
The following outlines 2021-22 ELCC investments, which are in addition to the Childcare BC investments outlined above.
Aboriginal Head Start:
The B.C. government is investing $10 million in 2021-22 to expand Aboriginal Head Start programs throughout the province, with over 30 communities benefiting from more than 640 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.
Under Budget 2021, the Province is investing in ongoing funding to support an additional 400 Aboriginal Head Start child care spaces in the province.
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
Supported Child Development: Under ELCC, the Province is investing $10 million in 2021-22 to make child care more inclusive. This funding means that more children will have access to Supported Child Development and Aboriginal Supported Child Development programming throughout the province: https://news.gov.bc.ca/18343
In addition, Budget 2021 includes funding to help approximately 2,000 more families access services from Supported Child Development and Aboriginal Supported Child Development programs and increasing the hours of support for children who are already enrolled in these programs.
In July 2021, B.C. became the first province to sign on to the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement (CW-ELCC), which will provide $3.2 billion in federal funding to help deliver affordable, quality and inclusive child care for B.C. families.
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 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Temporary Emergency Funding was provided regardless of whether families chose to temporarily withdraw their children 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, which are outlined below:
Health and Safety Grants:
One-time grant funding was available to open, licensed child care providers to offset the additional costs of operating safely during the pandemic. Successful applicants received a total of $35 million in funding in December 2020. Under Budget 2021, child care providers shared an additional $20 million in Health and Safety Grants in July 2021.
Child Care Rapid Renovation Fund:
A total of $6 million was available to school boards, post-secondary institutions and health authorities to quickly create more licensed child care spaces. The funding supported ready-to-go renovations at public facilities. The application period closed on March 12, 2021:
Aboriginal Head Start Land-based Project:
Existing Aboriginal Head Start (AHS) sites are receiving a total of $10 million to restore, refurbish or develop outdoor cultural early learning environments. The funding will help AHS sites provide more opportunities for physical activity and outdoor land-based early learning and recreation for Indigenous children.