VANCOUVER – The BC Aboriginal Child Care Society (BCACCS) acknowledges the multi-year funding commitment for First Nations early childhood development and child care services in the recently released 2017 federal Canadian budget as a positive development.
In 2016, the federal Canadian budget allocated an initial $500 million in 2017–18 for early learning and child care which included $100 million annually for First Nations child care and Aboriginal Head Start, two key programs targeting Indigenous children birth to six years. Budget 2017 builds on the overall commitment to early learning and child care with an additional $7 billion over 10 years, starting in 2018–19.
“After facing a decade without federal leadership or new investment in our communities for child care and other supports for our youngest citizens we are relieved that the federal government has committed to a multi-year funding plan,” states Mary Teegee, BCACCS Board President.
A portion of this investment has been earmarked for on- and off-reserve early learning and child care programs for Indigenous children. The commitment includes the development of a distinct Indigenous Framework on Early Learning and Child Care (IELCC) in accordance with the unique priorities, cultures and needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, families, communities and nations throughout Canada.
This national framework will help make permanent an Indigenous role in decision-making where funding, policy and governance are concerned on matters that effect Indigenous early learning and child care.
BCACCS acknowledges the federal government’s unprecedented investment in Canada’s Indigenous population of $11.8 billion over six years, and commends the continued commitment to implement the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as well as what the TRC calls the “framework for reconciliation” for Canada in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The move to support language restoration and improve health, education, training, and job opportunities for all Indigenous people will also help support our youngest citizens.
Forty years of research, both in Canada and globally, shows how high quality, culturally relevant early childhood development programs have the power to transform the lives of children, families, and communities. As we move forward there will no doubt be challenges, but BCACCS will work with Indigenous leadership, the early childhood education sector, and First Nations communities to ensure BC has a voice at the table as discussions on the promised national IELCC progress.
– with files from B.C. Aboriginal Child Care Society