Child care is getting less expensive and easier to find in the Cowichan Valley as the Province invests in nearly 120 new child care spaces to give more parents the option to return to work, go back to school or pursue other opportunities.
“As a working mom, I understand the challenges that parents face in trying to juggle their work and home life,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “By partnering with the local school district, we’re ensuring that more families have access to inclusive child care that ensures all children have what they need to thrive.”
Through the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, the Cowichan Valley School District (No. 79) is receiving funding to support the creation of three new school-based child care centres. They will be located at Alexander Elementary, Mill Bay Elementary and Palsson Elementary. Each centre will provide 37 licensed child care spaces – 12 infant/toddler spaces and 25 spaces for children aged three to five. The school district expects the new centres to open in September 2020.
The centres will offer a variety of wraparound services, including support for families with lower incomes, such as providing free snacks to children, as well as clothing, books and blankets, if needed. The school district will work with Sun Drops Supported Child Care Centre to make programming more accessible for children who need extra supports. In addition, supports will also be available to young parents and families who are new to Canada.
“These new child care spaces will create a strong foundation for children in the Cowichan Valley, setting them up for life-long success,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “The centres will be learning hubs where children begin their educational journeys, as well as inclusive, safe spaces where families can come together to benefit from many other programs and opportunities.”
As well as the three school-based facilities, Britters Critters Daycare is receiving both a startup grant and funding through the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund to create seven new spaces for children under the age of 12. Programming will include outdoor activities, such as gardening, to encourage children to learn through exploring nature, as well as teaching children about the culture and history of the local Cowichan Tribes and other Indigenous peoples. In addition, the provider will work closely with Sun Drops to ensure that programming is inclusive for children with extra support needs.
“I am delighted about the newest investment in child care spaces in the Cowichan Valley,” said Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley. “The BC Green caucus is a strong advocate for investing in child care and wraparound services for young families, recognizing both are critical to supporting healthy, resilient communities. Aligning early childhood care and learning with our existing schools is a wonderful way to further invest in our public education system, while we create spaces that work well for parents with multiple kids.”
Since launching in February 2018, the Childcare BC plan has helped parents in the Cowichan Valley region save more than $5.2 million through the Affordable Child Care Benefit and Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative.
Investing in child care and early childhood education is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Candace Spilsbury, chair, Board of Education for the Cowichan Valley School District –
“The board of education is thrilled at the continued investment into child care spaces in the Cowichan Valley. These additional spaces will continue to help families in our communities access good quality, reliable and professional child care for their little ones. We continue to be grateful to work alongside the ministry and our service providers to deliver these child care spaces to our communities.”
Brittnie Schwab, owner, Britters Critters Daycare –
"When I began looking for child care for my young son, I found that every centre had no spaces and long waitlists. When I began looking into opening my own centre, the local child care resource and referral team told me about the grants that were available to apply for. These grants have made it possible for me to build a fence and purchase resources and toys for my facility. I felt very supported while working through the application process. Any time I had questions or needed guidance, it was easy to reach someone at the ministry."
For more about Childcare BC, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare
To learn more about the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund and to apply, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/newspacesfund
To find child care your community, view the online child care map: http://maps.gov.bc.ca/ess/hm/ccf/
Child care factsheet: https://news.gov.bc.ca/18430
For more information on child care in the Cowichan Valley, visit the Clements Centre Society: www.clementscentre.org/children/child-care-rr/