Families in Houston will soon have access to 48 new licensed child care spaces at Silverthorne Elementary school as part of the Province’s ongoing commitment to increase child care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
“Providing child care on school grounds builds a strong sense of community for local families and is great for kids because they can move smoothly from child care to K-12 learning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “This will be the second licensed child care facility in Houston, and the school-age spaces will give parents more opportunities to re-enter the workforce and seek other opportunities, knowing they can drop their kids off to be safely cared for outside of regular school hours.”
The Bulkley Valley School District is partnering with the Houston Community Services Association and the BeanStalk Child Care Centre to run a child care centre, which is being built as part of their renovation to the elementary school.
“We are excited for the opportunity to bring more child care spaces to the community of Houston,” said Angélique Batley, executive director, Houston Community Services Association. “The expansion of our programs brings both new child care spaces and new job opportunities to our community.”
The new centre will provide eight infant and toddler spaces, 15 spaces for children aged three to five years and 25 school-age spaces for children up to the age of 12 years. The centre is expected to open in time for the September 2021 school year.
“The Bulkley Valley School District is elated to have this opportunity to rejuvenate the Silverthorne school building to provide much-needed services for parents and young children,” said Matthew Monkman, assistant superintendent of schools, School District 54 Bulkley Valley. “We look forward to seeing Silverthorne become Houston’s early learning hub, where children and parents receive seamless supports from preschool through the primary years.”
Recent changes made by government to the School Act will make it easier for school boards to create and operate before- and after-school care. The changes will 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.”
July 2020 marks the second anniversary of the launch of the New Spaces Fund, which has approved an average of 700 new spaces for funding each month. So far, nearly 16,800 new spaces have been funded throughout the province, helping parents return to work, go back to school or pursue other opportunities.
“Providing quality, affordable and inclusive child care goes hand in hand with a strong, vibrant economy,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “By funding nearly 16,800 new licensed spaces throughout the province, our government is helping more parents return to work, go back to school or pursue other opportunities knowing that when they drop their kids off in the morning, they’ll get the nurturing support they need to grow and thrive.”
These new spaces are part of the fastest creation of child care spaces in B.C.’s history. An additional 4,100 spaces, funded through the 2017 Budget Update and the Early Learning and Child Care agreement with the Government of Canada, means that more than 20,900 new licensed spaces have been funded 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.
- 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.
For information on health and safety standards for child care, visit: 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
For more information on child care in Houston, visit: http://www.bvcdc.ca/programs/ccrr/
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
A backgrounder follows.