Families in Prince George and Valemount will soon have access to 145 new licensed child care spaces as part of the Province’s ongoing commitment to increasing child care through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
“For too long, families in these communities have found it difficult to find child care, and these new projects will provide much-needed relief,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “These new child care spaces in Prince George and Valemount mean more families will have access to this vital service, allowing more parents to participate in the community and economy.”
The Childcare BC New Spaces Fund is supporting the City of Prince George to create 73 new child care spaces. This includes 25 group child care spaces for ages 30 months to school age, and 48 school-age spaces at the YMCA Park House Care and Early Learning Centre. In addition, the city received funding through the Union of BC Municipalities Community (UBCM) Child Care Space Creation Program for 12 infant/toddler spaces, bringing the total number of licensed spaces to 85. The facility will be fully accessible and professional development will be offered to staff working with children with extra support needs. The centre is expected to open in summer 2021.
“The YMCA of Northern BC is thrilled that the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund will directly support children and families being able to access high-quality early learning and care in downtown Prince George,” said Amanda Alexander, CEO, YMCA of Northern BC. “The centre will support children to have the best opportunity for early learning through the YMCA national curriculum, Playing to Learn, in a stimulating, accessible and home-like environment.”
In addition, the Village of Valemount is receiving funding to create 72 new spaces – 24 preschool spaces, 24 school-aged spaces and 24 group multi-age spaces – at the Robson Valley Community Services Society (RVCS) Children’s Centre. The centre will be on the ground floor of a new women’s affordable housing building and will be operated by the RVCS. In addition to its child care programming, RVCS will offer parenting courses and after-hours family support drop-in programs. The centre is expected to open in spring 2022.
“It is our intent to utilize this provincial funding to reduce the barriers to child care in the Village of Valemount, which is critical to the continued economic and social health of our community,” said Lina Thompson, executive director, RVCS. “The Valemount Children’s Centre will provide a socially stimulating, multicultural and community-oriented environment to help kids grow, learn and prosper in a space devoted to holistically nurturing childhood development, while addressing the physical, relational, emotional and intellectual aspects of a child's life.”
The Childcare BC New Spaces Fund has provided funding for an average of 700 new licensed spaces each month. So far, more than 16,800 new spaces have been funded throughout the province, helping parents return to work, go back to school or pursue other opportunities to help support their families.
“By working in partnership with local municipalities, Indigenous governments, non-profits, school districts and other partners, we are creating child care spaces that meet the unique needs of communities across our province,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “Together we are getting closer to our goal of giving B.C. families the quality, affordable child care they deserve.”
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 20,200 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.
Lyn Hall, mayor, Prince George –
“On behalf of Prince George City Council, I would like to offer our sincere thanks to the Government of B.C. and UBCM for their investment in child care for our community. The development of new child care spaces, particularly in our downtown core, helps to fulfil a critical need that was clearly demonstrated by the city’s child care needs assessment. This will greatly benefit families in our community and will help to attract families to our downtown neighbourhoods. This investment in child care along with the new condos, student housing and pool development will greatly improve and enhance our downtown core.”
Owen Torgerson, mayor, Village of Valemount–
"As the public sector partner on this project, the Village of Valemount values the long-term, 15-year commitment to further advance our community with 72 additional child care spaces. The $2.88-million investment by the Province and the potential for $10-per-day child care will be of true benefit to parents. This will make a real difference for all families to ensure healthy early years for children.”
- This investment means 357 new licensed child care spaces have been funded in Prince George and Valemount since July 2018.
- 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.
- The Community Child Care Space Creation Program is administered by UBCM and provides up to $1 million to local governments and to create new licensed child care spaces in their communities.
- The program is focussed on creating infant and toddler spaces and supporting underserved populations.
For information on health and safety standards for child care, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/ChildCareCovid-19Response
To learn more about the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/newspacesfund
To learn more about the UBCM Community Child Care Space Creation program, visit: https://www.ubcm.ca/EN/main/funding/lgps/child-care.html
(Note: applications are not currently being accepted for this program)
For more information on child care in Prince George and Valemount, visit: https://nbc.ymca.ca/community-initiatives/initiatives-programs/child-care-resource-referral/
Child care factsheet: https://news.gov.bc.ca/18430
A backgrounder follows.