The Province is making affordable, quality child care more accessible for families in Smithers by investing in 42 new spaces.
“We are working in partnership with the school district to bring child care to the grounds of Walnut Park Elementary,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “These new spaces are a win for everyone. They will save parents time by having one central drop-off and pickup location for their kids and give kids quality early learning and a smoother transition from child care into their first years of school.”
Through the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, the Bulkley Valley School District (School District 54) is creating a new child care centre as part of the Walnut Park Elementary school redesign. Currently under construction, the centre will accommodate 42 children, ages three to five.
“I’m proud to see our government investing in the young families that are the future of our community,” said Doug Donaldson, MLA for Stikine. "These new child care spaces will make it easier for parents to pursue career opportunities here in the North, while helping to set children up for success.”
The school district will be working with Coast Mountain College to support early childhood educator training to help create new opportunities for recruitment and retention. The new school, along with the child care centre, is expected to be open for the 2021-22 school year.
“School District 54 looks forward to this opportunity to develop an active partnership with child care providers for enhancing both the transitions from preschool to kindergarten, as well as before- and after-school care options for school-aged children,” said Michael McDiarmid, superintendent of School District 54. “The district anticipates that this investment will create enriched learning environments for both preschool and school-aged children.”
This investment means that 95 new licensed child care spaces have been funded in Smithers since July 2018. This is part of the fastest provincewide creation of child care spaces in B.C.’s history, with support for more than 13,000.
An additional 4,100 spaces, funded through the 2017 Budget Update and the Early Learning and Child Care agreement with the Government of Canada, takes the total to more than 17,000 spaces since July 2017.
Since launching in February 2018, the Childcare BC plan has helped parents in the Smithers area save more than $965,000 through the Affordable Child Care Benefit and Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative.
Recent changes made by the Ministry of Education to the School Act will make it even easier for school boards to create and operate before- and after-school care. The changes will also require school boards to create an inclusive child care policy and prioritize space that is not being used for K-12 students for child care.
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.
- To date, the Province has invested more than $19 million to provide more than 11,500 early childhood educators with a $1-per-hour wage enhancement, with another $1-per-hour lift to come in April 2020.
- This includes more than $34,000 for early childhood educators in Smithers.
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 in 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 Smithers and the surrounding area, visit: www.bvcdc.ca/programs/ccrr/child-care-resource-and-referral-ccr