Thousands of families in 34 B.C. communities will soon have access to quality, licensed child care, as the Province marks a new milestone in its Childcare BC plan.
“Despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, our goal to create new child care spaces throughout the province continues to gain momentum,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “We’ve been able to fund nearly 16,800 new spaces in the past two years, helping to fulfil our promise of better, more affordable child care options for children and families throughout B.C.”
Since March 2020, when the Province announced a child care milestone of more than 13,000 new licensed spaces, an additional 3,160 new licensed child care spaces have been funded throughout the province under the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund. July marks the second anniversary of the launch of the fund, under which an average of 700 new spaces have been approved for funding each month.
Chen and Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo, celebrated the latest achievement with the board of education of School District 68 (Nanaimo-Ladysmith). The district received the majority of the region’s 536 newly approved spaces to proceed with 10 projects that will create licensed child care spaces on school grounds.
“I’m happy to welcome more new child care projects to Nanaimo so that families have more options for care,” Malcolmson said. “Our government is making it easier to offer child care on school grounds, which is more convenient for parents and helps provide kids with a smoother transition to kindergarten.”
Recent changes made by the government 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 prioritize space that is not being used for K-12 students for child care and encourage school boards to adopt an inclusive child care policy.
“For too long, families throughout B.C. have struggled to find quality, affordable child care close to home,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “We’re making it easier for child care to be delivered on school properties, because children benefit when they spend more time in spaces that are already designed for enrichment and play, and families save time and money with one central drop-off location in their neighbourhoods.”
In addition to the projects on school grounds, Nanaimo will receive Childcare BC New Spaces funding to support two non-profit projects – one through the Discover Montessori Society and one through the Nanaimo Innovation Academy Foundation.
“These new spaces are part of the fastest province-wide creation of child care spaces in B.C.’s history,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “They demonstrate our ongoing commitments to making life more affordable for B.C. families and to building a strong, resilient economy that benefits everyone.”
An additional 4,110 spaces, funded through the 2017 Budget Update and the Early Learning and Child Care agreement with the Government of Canada, takes the total to nearly 20,900 spaces since July 2017.
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.
Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley –
“High-quality child care that is accessible for families throughout the province is an absolutely essential aspect of our COVID-19 economic recovery, and I am pleased to see more spaces being announced at this time. We will continue to work collaboratively to further improve child care and support B.C. families.”
Leonard Krog, mayor, City of Nanaimo –
“Child care is both a family and an economic issue facing many people in our community, which at times keeps parents up all night. Thanks to the Province, parents in Nanaimo can now have some peace of mind knowing that there will be additional child care spaces available in our city that will lay the foundations of learning and early childhood development for their children.”
Charlene McKay, chair, Nanaimo-Ladysmith Board of Education –
“As a parent of two school-aged children, I know first-hand the challenges families face when searching for child care. This continues to be a topic of conversation throughout the school district for parents. I applaud our government for identifying this major hurdle for our families and funding these greatly needed child care spaces throughout our entire district.”
Cynthia Dyer, principal and executive director, Discover Montessori Society –
“We are grateful for the investment by the New Spaces Fund toward the development of our Montessori Farm School Campus in Nanaimo. Our farm-based children’s campus will enable more families to have access to desperately needed infant-toddler, preschool and elementary child care spaces in the area. Designed with environmental sustainability and zero carbon in mind, the campus will be clean, bright and welcoming for children, and will offer many hands-on opportunities to connect students with nature.”
Keely Freeman, daycare manager, Nanaimo Innovation Academy Foundation –
“Nanaimo is in desperate need of quality child care. The New Spaces funding from the Province means we can help more kids grow, learn and thrive in an environment that nurtures all aspects of their development. We’re excited to be opening an additional 14 spaces for families this January 2021.”
- Since launching in February 2018, the Childcare BC plan has helped parents save up to $1,600 a month, per child, for a total of nearly $510 million going to families through the Affordable Child Care Benefit and Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative. Through these initiatives, over 32,000 children have received child care for no more than $10 a day.
- In January 2020, the Province launched a new professional development program, which is giving early childhood educators access to more than 30 teaching specialists at community hubs throughout B.C., helping them to stay up to date on the latest child care teaching trends and techniques.
- The Province has made significant investments to improve supports to B.C.’s early care and learning professionals, including investing approximately $16 million to provide more than 6,000 bursaries and workforce-development supports for students pursuing a career in child care.
- To date, the Province has invested more than $27 million to provide more than 12,000 early childhood educators with a $1-per-hour wage enhancement, which increased to $2 per hour in April 2020.
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/
For more information on child care in the Nanaimo area, visit: https://pacific-care.bc.ca/
Two backgrounders follow.