As parents return to work, the Province is making affordable, quality child care more accessible for families in Merritt by investing in more than 48 new licensed spaces, expected to open in September.
“Ensuring families have access to safe, high-quality child care is critical as we begin the gradual restart of our economy under COVID-19,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “These new spaces will provide much-needed relief to families in Merritt, support the economic growth of our province and help children along a path to lifelong learning.”
With support from the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, the Merritt Youth and Family Resources Society is creating 48 new spaces, including 20 infant/toddler spaces, 12 school-age spaces and 16 multi-age spaces. These are in addition to 28 spaces that were previously funded in part by the government. These included 24 school-age spaces and four infant/toddler spaces, bringing the total number of spaces at this location to 76.
“We were able to make the necessary changes required to remain open throughout COVID-19 so we could continue to help families in Merritt and the surrounding communities,” said Lenora Fletcher, executive director, Merritt Youth and Family Resources Society. “For people living in a rural community, it’s important to stay connected and work together.
“As parents return to work, we are here to support their families and our communities as we navigate this ‘new normal.’ Our child care approach honours First Nations’ practice and the small-community belief that it takes a community to raise children. It’s an approach that takes more time, but it’s worth the investment and time for the children’s development.”
Located at a historic movie theatre site, the facility is downtown, making it accessible for families who live in the city or commute to Merritt. The space will feature an outdoor garden where children can learn about growing fruits, herbs and vegetables. It will also have stroller parking to accommodate parents who walk to drop off and pick up their children.
These new spaces in Merritt are part of the fastest creation of child care spaces in B.C.’s history. They were included in March 2020’s 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, brings 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 toward its “new normal” under COVID-19, child care capital builds 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 important work they do.
More information on health and safety standards for child care, plus the latest COVID-19 related child care information is available online:
For more about Childcare BC, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare
To learn more about the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, visit:
For more information on the Merritt Youth and Family Resources Society, visit: http://www.merrittfamilyresources.com/
To find child care in your community, view the online child care map: