Okanagan families benefit from new child care spaces

April 21, 2022 at 12:56 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

More parents in the Interior region will be able to pursue work, school and other opportunities while knowing their children are cared for as the Province invests in 240 new licensed child care spaces.

“Adding even more child care spaces in the Okanagan means that we’re helping working parents save money while giving their kids a great start,” said Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee. “Our government is continuing to work hard to reverse decades of inaction and help families find affordable care options. These new spaces will provide a dependable and affordable service to Okanagan parents, so they can work on their career or advance their education, supporting our local economy and helping address the labour shortage.”

Provincial funding with a federal contribution is supporting four child care providers to create the new spaces in the Okanagan areas of:

In addition to these child care locations, 1,166 new spaces have been funded in the Okanagan region since the launch of ChildCareBC in July 2018.

“Okanagan College strives to strengthen the social resiliency of our communities. Child care spaces at the Vernon campus will make a significant impact on the lives of our students and support inclusive access to education for our learners,” said Neil Fassina, president, Okanagan College.

Since 2018, the Province has invested $2.7 billion in ChildCareBC, including funding more than 26,000 new licensed child care spaces through the New Spaces Fund and other space-creation programs.

“For years, parents in B.C. were left with a patchwork system where child care was treated as a luxury. As we enter the fifth year of our 10-year ChildCareBC plan, we are making significant progress to reverse this,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “We’ve been working to turn the corner by building new spaces, lowering fees and training the skilled professionals needed to offer quality child care as a core service available to every family that wants it at a price they can afford.”

Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care, said: “Our government is creating new child care spaces in communities throughout B.C. to ensure child care is available when and where families need it. With some of the new child care spaces on school grounds, we’re able to better integrate child care into the broader learning environment so children can more easily transition from their early care programs into their school community.”

New spaces require new early childhood educators (ECEs). A recruitment and retention strategy was included as part of B.C.’s 10-year ChildCareBC plan, launched in 2018. Progress since then includes:

  • providing more than 10,000 bursaries to support nearly 6,000 ECE students;
  • creating 1,150 new ECE student spaces at post-secondary schools, which more than doubles the number of seats since 2018; and
  • enhancing ECE compensation by $4 per hour.

Budget 2022 builds on this through a $3.9-million investment over the next three years to add another 390 new ECE seats at public post-secondary institutions in B.C.

As a result of ChildCareBC investments, parents in Coldstream/Kootenay East, Fruitvale/Kootenay West, Kelowna and Penticton have saved $5 million, $7 million, $39 million and $9 million, respectively.

Quick Facts:

  • In 2022-23, Budget 2022 is providing an additional $30 million for the ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund to further expand the number of licensed child care spaces with a focus on spaces for school-age children.
  • More than 30,000 children receive support through the Affordable Child Care Benefit every month. Parents making less than $45,000 can receive 100% funding and those making as much as $111,000 can receive partial funding.
  • In 2021-22, fee reductions were approved for more than 68,800 child care spaces at more than 3,600 child care facilities in B.C. through the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative.
  • To support the goal of ensuring access to quality, affordable, flexible and inclusive early learning and child care, the Government of Canada will contribute $3.2 billion for child care in British Columbia over five years through the 2021-22 to 2025-26 Canada-British Columbia Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Agreement.
    • This is in addition to the more than $321 million announced in August 2021 through the 2021-22 to 2024-25 Canada-British Columbia ELCC Agreement, which included $49.2 million through a one-time investment in 2021-22 to support the early childhood workforce.

Learn More:

For more about ChildCareBC, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare

For more about the New Spaces Fund, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/caring-for-young-children/running-daycare-preschool/childcare-new-spaces-fund

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