As parents return to work, the Province is making affordable, quality child care more accessible for families in Hartley Bay by investing in 24 new licensed spaces, scheduled to open by summer 2021.
“A child’s early years are so important, and I am pleased that this new child care centre will offer culturally relevant, quality child care for Gitga’at children and play a positive role in helping them remain connected to their community, traditions and history as they grow older,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Having this centre near the local elementary school will also provide parents with one drop-off and pickup location and will help younger children feel safe and comfortable knowing their older siblings are nearby.”
The Childcare BC New Spaces Fund is supporting the Gitga’at First Nation's construction of a new standalone building where 15 school-aged child care spaces and nine spaces for children under the age of 12 will be available for local families.
“By making investments in child care, we are giving more parents the option to pursue their work or educational goals, knowing that their kids have a safe, nurturing environment to learn in,” said Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast. “I’m proud that this investment will mean better access to good-quality and culturally appropriate child care for families in Hartley Bay, and a facility that meets the community’s needs.”
The curriculum will be created with input from Elders to provide children with culturally enriched learning, such as storytelling, language and traditional art. The existing centre currently provides morning and afternoon snacks for children at no additional cost to parents, and at the new building, which is located across from the local elementary school’s home economics building, the children will receive lunch as well.
“The funding for this daycare is very important, as it is currently run from a small two-bedroom house, which makes it hard to have separate programs customized for different age groups,” said Teresa Robinson from Gitga’at First Nation. “Parents are welcome to join the children in the afternoon programming, but because of the limited space, that doesn’t often happen. The new building will be a great asset to the program and community, helping to bring families together and be more involved in their children’s early learning.”
The centre will provide staff with the opportunity to upgrade their qualifications locally and become certified early childhood educators without having to travel for their certificates. In addition to the child care centre, the building will house an Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve, with seven spaces moving from another location. The project is part of the Gitga’at First Nation’s strategic plan, which includes building a hotel and restaurant, grocery store and commercial community kitchen.
These new spaces in Hartley Bay are part of the fastest provincewide creation of child care spaces in B.C.’s history and were included in the March 2020 milestone announcement of 13,000 new spaces the Province has funded since July 2018.
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 new licensed spaces since July 2017.
Since launching in February 2018, the Childcare BC plan has helped parents save almost $500 million through the Affordable Child Care Benefit (ACCB) and Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative (CCFRI). Over 69,500 children have been approved for ACCB benefit plans since the start of the program. Currently, over 61,000 licensed child care spaces are approved to receive CCFRI funding.
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.
- As the Province moves towards its “new normal” under COVID-19, child care projects may see unexpected delays.
- Once operational, child care providers will be required to follow guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health and BC Centre for Disease Control to keep staff and the families they serve safe and to limit the risk of transmission.
- To date, the Province has invested more than $19 million to provide nearly 12,000 early childhood educators with a $1-per-hour wage enhancement, which increased to $2 per hour in April 2020, to better recognize the work they do.
More information on health and safety standards for child care, plus the latest COVID-19 related child care information, is available at: www.gov.bc.ca/ChildCareCovid-19Response
For more about Childcare BC, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare
To learn more about the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, 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/
For more information on child care in Hartley Bay, call the Prince Rupert Association for Community Living at 250 622-2434.