Indigenous children and their families soon will see increased child care planning supports to help connect them to the culturally sensitive programs and services they need to succeed.
These supports are the result of new partnerships between the B.C. government and Métis Nation BC, the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society and the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres.
“All of our work with Indigenous peoples needs to be based on the recognition of their right to self-determination,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “These new positions acknowledge that planning and support to families belong in the hands of Indigenous peoples.”
The Province is investing $3.6 million over three years to support 11 new early learning and child care planning and navigator positions to help address the specific needs of Indigenous children, families and communities throughout the province.
These positions will not only help families find and access services, but they will work with communities, child care operators and other levels of government to plan for and deliver culturally based early years programs, like parent-tot drop-in playtime, new child care programs and parent education seminars.
“We have learned from our engagement with communities that Indigenous-led planning and programming sets us on a path toward reconciliation,” said Katrine Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “We have listened, and we have taken the first steps toward resourcing this commitment in early care and learning.”
Through the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, Indigenous organizations, governments and tribal councils may be eligible for up to $500,000 to create new child care spaces in their community. If an organization chooses to partner with a non-profit child care provider, it may be eligible for up to $1 million.
In addition to these partnerships, as part of the Early Learning and Child Care agreement between the governments of Canada and British Columbia, the Province is investing $30 million to expand the Aboriginal Head Start program through a partnership with the First Nation Health Authority and Aboriginal Head Start Association of BC. This program provides culturally based, inclusive child care, family bonding and prevention services to Indigenous families both on and off reserve.
Through partnerships, the Province is working to ensure all components of the B.C. child care plan meet the needs of Indigenous children and their families. Over the next three years, the Province is investing more than $1 billion in child care to move toward its long-term vision of a universal child care system in B.C.
Mary Teegee, president, BC Aboriginal Child Care Society –
“This is a historic and transformative time for our province, a time for forging new relationships and partnerships to strengthen our children, families and communities and nations. Funding from this initiative will support better planning and co-ordination at all levels and in ways we hope will be more responsive to community needs and priorities for their children.”
Colleen Hodgson, director of education, Métis Nation BC –
“Métis Nation British Columbia and the Ministry of Children and Family Development are committed to Métis children and families in British Columbia. The Métis early years navigator program is a partnership that will connect Métis children and families to culturally relevant, self-empowering programs and supports throughout the province.”
Diana Elliott, Aboriginal infant development program provincial advisor, BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres –
“This is an exciting time of enrichment and growth of Indigenous programs and services for our children and families in B.C. Indigenous, culturally safe programs and supports best meet the needs of Indigenous families from a place of respect, toward the well-being of children through positive relationships with families. In partnership with our government and Indigenous leadership, we will continue to support our children through early and lifelong learning and increase our services to families who need us.”
- Among other duties, navigators will:
- help families connect with culturally inclusive child care and early years services;
- enhance existing supports and programs within the community; and
- identify opportunities to leverage existing resources.
- Planners will work with communities to plan for and meet child care needs. For example, a planner could:
- work with a community to develop a child care needs assessment;
- navigate the child care licensing process;
- work with child care providers to help them apply for government funding, e.g., through the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund; or
- work with a child care operator to review programming to make sure the programming reflects cultural practices.
Child care in B.C.: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare
Métis Nation British Columbia: www.mnbc.ca
BC Aboriginal Child Care Society: www.acc-society.bc.ca
BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres: www.bcaafc.com
Aboriginal Head Start Association of BC: www.ahsabc.com
A backgrounder follows.