After years of neglect by previous governments, BC is now taking concrete steps to address the child care chaos across the province. These steps need to solve 3 big problems:
- Parent fees are too high, ranging from $800/month for preschoolers to over $1,000/month for younger children (provincial median).
- Too few licensed spaces – BC parents can’t find or afford quality child care, especially for shift work, as there are only enough licensed spaces for 18% of young children.
- Early Childhood Educators wages and benefits are too low – forcing many to leave the field.
As a result, too many families have no choice but to use unregulated care that’s not monitored for health and safety, or even for meeting legal requirements—at times with tragic results.
Parents want – and children need – quality programs. Raising a child is a lot more expensive today than a generation ago. Parents are stressed and too many children are not getting the best possible start. Employers, communities and our economy are also affected.
BC’s child care chaos was caused by weak government policies and low public investments.
Unlike schools, parks, hospitals, libraries and other community services, prior to 2018 child care received very little public funding. Most of the costs were paid by parents.
In fact, Canada has ranked LAST among developed nations on child care for more than a decade. We invest the least, have the lowest participation rates and weak family policies overall.
While Canada ranks last on child care, BC has been even further behind most of the rest of the country. Until recently, the BC government spent less so fees were high and access was low.
The $10aDay Child Care Plan is the community’s solution to BC’s child care crisis. 82% of British Columbians agree that it will be beneficial to parents.
The $10aDay Plan will make child care affordable by bringing fees down to
- $10 a day for full time care
- $7 a day for part time care
- No parent fees for families with annual incomes under $40,000
This will make a real difference for all families and is the single biggest step we can take to reduce poverty for families with young children.
The $10aDay Plan will build a child care system that provides a licensed space for every child whose family wants or needs it, on a voluntary basis:
- All children, including those with extra support needs, will be welcome.
- A range of programs in licensed family homes and centres will reflect the rich diversity of BC communities
- Licensed spaces will accommodate parents with non-traditional hours/shift work
- Existing child care services will be invited into the new system
The $10aDay Plan supports Indigenous rights in Indigenous child care and urges governments to respond to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and to implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The quality of the system depends on Early Childhood Educators. They must be well-educated, well-respected and fairly-compensated.
The $10aDay Plan invests in the Early Childhood Educator workforce by supporting all caregivers to obtain an ECE Diploma. Over time, the workforce will transition towards a bachelor’s degree. Wages will also increase to at least $25 per hour, on average, along with improved benefits and regular adjustments for inflation.
Unlicensed caregivers will be supported to become Early Childhood Educators and work in the regulated system if they choose.
The Plan’s requirements for health & safety regulation and education for Early Childhood Educators are key to ensuring that consistently high quality programs are in place for all BC children, across regions and socio-economic groups.
Since 2011, supporters across the province have advanced the Community’s $10aDay Child Care Plan as the solution to BC’s child care chaos. In February, 2018 the BC government introduced its Child Care BC Plan in response to this chaos. The 2 Plans have shared goals – reducing parent fees, increasing educator wages and education, and creating more licensed spaces that meet diverse family needs. Now, Plan supporters are tracking progress and taking action to ensure that every step leads us towards a universal, high quality, affordable child care system.
In 2017, for the first time in more than a decade, the federal budget incorporated new long-term funding for child care. This is welcome news as reports consistently confirm that Canada has the lowest public funding for child care among wealthy countries.
Yet the federal funding commitment, on its own, is too small to significantly change Canada’s weak international ranking and achieve quality, affordable child care for all who choose it. So researchers and advocates across the country continue to call on the federal government to increase funding over time, with accountability for ensuring funds are used to increase access to quality, affordable child care from coast to coast to coast.
Building on the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Canada’s child care community also acknowledges that Indigenous communities should be supported to design, deliver and govern child care systems and services that meet their needs and aspirations for self-determination.
In BC, the new federal funding supports the provincial government’s commitment to universal child care, ensuring that families more in need are prioritized as implementation unfolds.