The Province’s $221-million investment to build new licensed child care spaces for B.C. families comes as part of government’s three-year, $1-billion investment in Childcare BC – the most significant child care investment in B.C. history.
Childcare BC has three key pillars: quality, affordability and accessibility.
A key goal under Childcare BC is to improve the quality of the province’s child care system, through enhanced supports for early childhood educators (ECEs) and other child care professionals. Quality will be achieved by enhancing training and development opportunities, as well as addressing the issue of wages and recruitment in the sector.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development (CFD), in partnership with Early Childhood Educators of BC, provides a bursary for students who are enrolled in early childhood educational programs at one of 32 approved post-secondary institutions in B.C.: www.ecebc.ca/programs/student_bursary.html
CFD is looking to expand this fund, with support from the Government of Canada under the Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, to increase training and development opportunities for ECEs across the province.
As part of Childcare BC, the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training is investing $7.4 million, over the next three years, to fund an additional 620 early childhood educator seats at public post-secondary institutions throughout B.C.
In addition, CFD is currently looking at ways to support existing early childhood educators (ECEs), as well as recruit new ECEs, by addressing the issue of wages and improving recruitment and retention in the sector. More information on these next steps will be available later in the summer.
The Province has moved quickly to support parents who are struggling with the high cost of child care. The Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative, introduced in April 2018, 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 45,000 spaces are eligible for a reduction in fees, and the initiative has put more than $12 million back in parents’ pockets.
Providers who have been approved for the initiative are listed online: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/optin
On Sept. 1, 2018, the Affordable Child Care Benefit will replace the existing Child Care Subsidy. Under the new benefit, eligible parents can apply for up to $1,250 per month, per child. The Affordable Child Care Benefit expands eligibility to families with a pre-tax income of up to $111,000 (up from $55,000 under the subsidy), and will support around 86,000 families by 2021.
The Childcare BC New Spaces Fund will help address the shortage of child care spaces throughout the province by supporting the creation of up to 22,000 new licensed spaces over the next three years.
The new Childcare BC Maintenance Fund, introduced in June 2018, will help eligible child care providers to maintain existing spaces by providing funding to help them with minor repairs or to replace equipment in order to meet licensing standards. The fund helps cover relocation costs for eligible providers so they can quickly move their operations, if needed, and continue to support B.C. children and their families: www.gov.bc.ca/ccmaintenancefund
In June 2018, the Province launched the Start-Up Grant program to support 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 will help to enhance the quality of child care throughout B.C.: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/startupgrants
In the coming months, the Province will look to build and strengthen partnerships with local governments to create new child care spaces. Working together will help leverage existing public spaces to build new child care facilities more quickly.
Early Learning and Child Care Agreement
Investments under the Province’s Childcare BC plan are complemented by the Province’s three-year, $153-million Early Learning and Child Care Agreement (ELCC) with the Government of Canada, which was signed in February 2018.
Under ELCC, the Province is investing $60 million to create Universal Child Care Prototype Sites in B.C. Launching in September 2018, this project will create approximately 1,800 child care spaces that will model child care at a cost of $200 a month, or less, per child: www.gov.bc.ca/childcareprototypesites
The Province has committed $30 million to expand Aboriginal Head Start programs in B.C. These programs provide culturally based, inclusive child care and early learning, family bonding and prevention services.
Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve: www.fnha.ca/what-we-do/maternal-child-and-family-health/aboriginal-head-start-on-reserve
Aboriginal Head Start in urban communities: www.ahsabc.com
In May 2018, the Province announced an additional $3 million over the next three years – on top of its annual funding of $1.6 million – to boost the monthly subsidy amount available to eligible young parents to up to $1,500 a month per child. The increase in funding will help to serve the child care needs of approximately 220 young-parent families per year: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content?id=41CD55C0B3ED4F51A0274EDE85E886F5
The Province will announce further ELCC investments in the coming months.