Child care providers and parents can continue to count on funding from the Province to support the ongoing operations of child care centres throughout British Columbia.
The temporary emergency funding program (TEF) for licensed child care centres is being extended until Aug. 31, 2020. This funding is a key part of the Province’s COVID-19 response, as it helps to ensure essential-service workers have access to safe, reliable child care and parents can return to work as the economy restarts and more B.C. businesses open.
It also ensures that child care centres are holding spots, free of charge, for their existing families who may choose to stay home with their children through the summer. Communicating this timeline well in advance will allow child care providers, as well as parents, sufficient time to plan their next steps.
“As a former early childhood educator, I understand what a challenging time this has been for families and for child care professionals,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Whether centres have remained open or are temporarily closed, I want to thank all child care providers for their unrelenting dedication, support and patience. This funding is another way our government is recognizing the critical role they play in communities, social support systems and the economy.”
The funding supports open centres to operate with reduced enrolment and helps those that are temporarily closed to cover fixed costs, like rent or lease payments. In addition, the Province will require operators to use any surplus TEF – after meeting funding and health guidelines – to provide their early childhood educators (ECEs) with temporary wage enhancements or other compensation, such as training or benefits.
“With the implementation of the temporary emergency funding, the Britannia Child Care Hub has been able to keep programs open to provide priority care for essential care workers,” said Jacky Hughes, manager of child care services, Britannia Community Services Centre. “The funding has allowed the programs to save child care spaces for families, reduce essential service parent fees by 20%, increase educators' wages by 30% and provide educators with free priority child care. The pandemic has created many uncertainties for the future of ECE, but with the continuation of temporary emergency funding, we are able to provide some relief for families and educators, while ensuring the financial sustainability of our programs.”
The fund is a unique program in Canada, providing centres that are open with seven times their average monthly funding from government to help cover their monthly operating expenses. Child care providers temporarily closed due to COVID-19 are also eligible to receive twice their average monthly funding so they can safely reopen. Smaller home-based child care providers are also eligible for these supports.
“High-quality, affordable child care goes hand in hand with the success of B.C.’s economy, and that is especially true right now,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “By extending this funding, we are providing stability for providers and certainty for parents that their spot will be held, free of charge, so they can return to work as the economy restarts and life returns to a new kind of normal. We’re also ensuring that any surplus funding is redirected to support early childhood educators.”
In addition to TEF, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and the Ministry of Health have released health and safety guidelines for child care settings that are supporting child care centres, which were temporarily closed, to reopen safely. As well, the BCCDC and the ministry are reassuring parents, as they return to work, that their children will be cared for in a safe environment.
One of the conditions of the funding is that centres must prioritize spaces for children of essential service workers. As of May 2020, more than 8,000 children of essential service workers were attending child care, allowing their parents to provide the health care and critical services British Columbians rely on.
To support families who may be struggling with loss of employment and income, child care providers receiving this funding must not charge parents fees for any periods of closure or for any vacant spaces while they are open, including when a parent chooses to temporarily withdraw a child due to COVID-19.
Since its implementation on April 1, 2020, the Province has invested more than $150 million through the TEF to support over 4,500 child care centres, representing over 115,000 spaces, both open and closed. Approximately 90% of eligible providers in B.C. are receiving support from the TEF program.
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.
- Child care centres receiving temporary emergency funding continue to be eligible for the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative and the ECE Wage Enhancement.
- The fee reduction helps parents by providing funding for licensed child care providers to reduce and stabilize their monthly child care fees.
- The wage enhancement has provided nearly 12,000 ECEs with a $1-per-hour wage enhancement, which increased to $2 per hour on April 1, 2020, to better recognize the work they do.
- Families accessing care from these providers may also be eligible for the Affordable Child Care Benefit. As of June 2020, more than 52,000 families have benefited from savings of up to $1,250 a month, per child.
More information on health and safety standards for child care, plus the latest COVID-19 related child care information is available online: www.gov.bc.ca/ChildCareCovid-19Response
Essential workers looking for child care, along with parents whose regular child care spots are currently being used by the children of essential workers, can fill out a “parent” form to identify their need for urgent child care. Forms can be accessed by calling 1 888 338-6622 and selecting Option 4, or online: www.gov.bc.ca/essential-service-child-care
For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/
Or follow the BCCDC on Twitter @CDCofBC.
For the provincial health officer's orders, notices and guidance, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/phoguidance
For non-health related information, including financial, child care and education supports, travel, transportation and essential service information, call (toll-free) 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week, or visit: www.gov.bc.ca/Covid-19