The BC government has committed to creating 24,000 licensed child care spaces over the next three years, a target that is consistent with the $10aDay Child Care Plan recommendations.
As government begins to create these new spaces, we call on them to move away from the old, ineffective Major Capital Grant Program. This reactive program relied on individual child care providers to assess local child care needs, write a detailed application, raise their own funding contribution and manage the planning and construction process. And, although taxpayers contributed substantial funds to this Program, too often individuals and corporations (even numbered companies) owned the resulting spaces.
Instead, government needs to move towards an evidence-based approach that ensures publicly-funded spaces are planned in and by communities and are publicly-owned – the same way schools and libraries are planned and funded.
Our recent letter to the BC government highlights this approach, which:
- Puts responsibility for assessing local child care needs where it belongs – in communities.
- Puts responsibility for overall planning and adequate capital funding where it belongs – with the provincial government.
- Puts ownership of publicly-funded assets where it belongs – with the public.
- Puts responsibility for exploring and implementing a range of options for creating more licensed spaces where it belongs – with the provincial government and public partners.
Creating all the quality, licensed child care spaces that BC families need, will take time. But, as we suggest to government, there is a way to start creating new spaces immediately. Custom-designed modular buildings can be built quickly to create new, high-quality programs while a longer-term capital plan is developed. Working with public partners such as school districts, local governments, health authorities and others – the province can purchase and place these modular units on public property with a short turn-around time, creating immediate relief in communities currently experiencing long wait lists for child care services.
Crucially, at the same time, we call for an immediate wage enhancement for educators, to begin to address the province-wide recruitment and retention crisis primarily caused by low wages and lack of benefits. Clearly, we can’t create more licensed spaces without investing in the educators needed to work in those programs.
24,000 new licensed spaces will make a huge difference for families in BC – let’s get started!