With thousands of families across the province struggling with the shortage of quality child care in British Columbia communities, the Province has announced they will all benefit from the 22,000 licensed spaces coming over the next three years.
“Parents are struggling to find quality, affordable child care and it’s time we made the investments that are good for families, and for our economy,” said Katrine Conroy, the Minister of Children and Family Development. “Creating more licensed, affordable child care spaces is a key part of our new Childcare BC plan, so parents can have the peace of mind they need and quality care they can rely on.”
According to a news release issued by the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the new spaces are to be created through a $221 million investment in the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, which subsequently replaces the old Child Care Major Capital Funding Program.
These new child care spaces will supposedly be more affordable, while the funding will reportedly be easier to access for private-sector, non-profit and public-sector child care service providers, per the news release.
The ultimate goal, according to the provincial government, is to continue to support and foster the creation of spaces on school grounds, making the often daunting task of finding appropriate child care easier for B.C. families.
“Too many parents are dealing with a lack of good options when it comes to child care and that’s only made worse as spaces close due to financial pressures on child care operators,” said Katrina Chen, the Minister of State for Child Care. “With our Childcare BC plan, we’re letting operators and parents know that government is on their side, and investing in their future. Creating these new spaces is the latest step in making child care more available and affordable for more families.”
As part of this new investment, the news release states that the government will be looking to leverage and utilize existing facilities, such as on school grounds, in churches, at recreation centres or other public spaces, to ensure the expansion of child care in B.C. is feasible.
Furthermore, funding preference will continue to be given to communities that require it the most, such as fast-developing urban centres, as well as Indigenous, rural and remote communities. Creating infant and toddler spaces is said to be a top priority in the coming years.
“We know many families are struggling to find child care,” said Amy Reid, director of Step by Step Child Development Society, an established non-profit centre in the Tri-Cities. “We want to see more families having access to affordable and inclusive care. We are hopeful this new fund will support the development of partnerships, resulting in increased access to quality care for families.”
Finally, information provided in the news release states that as part of its commitment in expanding quality and affordable child care across the province, the B.C. Government is working to address wages, recruitment and retention for early childhood educators.
More information on these changes will be available in the coming months.