Editorial

Editorial: New childcare spaces a step in the right direction

It has been a banner year for parents in the Cowichan Valley looking for childcare.

It was announced last week that three new childcare centres will be opening in the Cowichan Valley in September of this year.

They will be school based — at Palsson Elementary in Lake Cowichan, Alexander Elementary in Duncan and Mill Bay Elementary in Mill Bay — and have come about through provincial funding.

These centres will provide nearly 120 new childcare spaces.

This comes on top of a previous announcement in June 2019 of three other new centres that were slated for completion early this year, one at Cowichan Valley Open Learning Co-operative, one at Chemainus Elementary, and one at Khowhemun Elementary. Those are to provide 160 new childcare spaces. These were also courtesy of the province’s Childcare BC New Spaces Fund.

Whew! When was the last time the Cowichan Valley saw this kind of investment in childcare?

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BC Budget 2020 Media Release

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Child Care Top of Mind

Child care, housing top of mind for parents ahead of budget

Jesse Johnston · CBC News · Posted: Feb 12, 2020

The B.C. government will table the budget on Feb. 18, 2020

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Katie Barthel, a mother of two from Surrey, is an advocate for $10-a-day daycare in B.C. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

There's a short window during Katie Barthel's lunch break when she's able sneak away from work to discuss the upcoming budget.

Barthel — who lives in South Surrey with her husband and two daughters, aged four and eight, and sits on the board of directors for the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. — says a $10 per day child-care system would be a major help to families like hers where both parents work full time.

"It would help us balance our lifestyle and be able to do more things as a family, save for our children's education or retirement," she said.

"It could also help us pay for the increasingly difficult housing market in B.C."

Barthel says her neighbourhood has seen explosive population growth since her children were born, so it's been a challenge for her friends and neighbours to find child-care spaces.

The B.C. government says it is working with schools to create more spaces, but Adrienne Montani with the advocacy group, First Call, says many low income families still can't afford child care.

"Those who are lucky enough to get a spot are often stretching way beyond their budget or they're not going back to work," she said.

"That's both single families and parents in couple families."

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$10aDay Prototypes to Continue

Pilot project for $10 daycare extended to April 2021

Victoria News 

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The 80 Victoria families benefiting from the $10 a day daycare pilot program will be receiving daycare at that same price until April 2021.

Lexie Biegun says she recently found out that the provincial government had renewed the project for Lexie’s Little Bears’ Child Care Inc., one of two sites in Greater Victoria taking part in the prototype stage of universal affordable child care for Canadians.

The pilot project offers childcare for $200 per month.

“It’s such a cliche, but it’s like winning the lottery,” said Biegun, the owner of the daycare. “The families have been over the moon with this pilot project. Everyone wants a piece of it.”

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A Plan for School-Aged Child Care in Schools

It just makes sense!

Click here to access a PDF version of this post.

On November 8, 2019, BC’s Minister of Education hosted a very significant Early Learning Summit. The Summit brought together school district leaders, teachers, and representatives from child care organizations from across BC to hear about the current research and evidence on the social and financial benefits of investing in early learning, discuss school-age child care, and listen to school district/community stories.

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Promise of Universal $10-a-day Child Care

Globe & Mail Editorial January 12, 2020

Life in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland is expensive. The high cost of housing is widely known, but another outsized bill is the cost of child care, which ranks among the highest in the country.

The provincial NDP eked into government in 2017, promising to make life more affordable. Among the main pillars of its platform was $10-a-day child care.

The $10-a-day banner is a mythic and unrealized figure in most of Canada. It’s based on Quebec’s long-standing child-care program, which is cheap for parents, but heavily subsidized by taxpayers.

While the BC NDP’s platform did promise to “bring in” $10-a-day care, the party was cautious about timing. It wasn’t promised immediately, or for every child – there simply wasn’t room in the budget for that much new spending, that quickly. The initial focus was to be on low-income families, and kids under the age of 2. The party also said it had no intention of blowing up the existing patchwork of care, from licensed family homes to other operators.

In power, the minority NDP government has been cautious. It can claim to have made progress on increasing access to low-cost child care, but the results so far illustrate the challenges of making a big difference without spending big amounts of money.

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It's Time to Double Down on Child care

BC’s Childcare Investments Are Commendable. Now It’s Time to Double Down

Taking stock of the government’s efforts, and what’s still needed.

Sharon Gregson 8 Jan 2020 | TheTyee.ca

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This month marks almost two years since the BC NDP government, supported by the Greens, launched “Childcare BC” to fulfill the campaign promise of providing universal, affordable childcare within 10 years.

So what has changed for children and families? For the first time in a generation, the childcare chaos is being addressed with new historic investments. More than 50,000 families are paying lower fees, and many are paying $10 a day or less; 10,000 new licensed spaces have been created or are under development; and early childhood educators are receiving wage increases.

These essential investments were possible because in Budget 2018, Finance Minister Carole James (who fortunately understands childcare) and her colleagues prioritized three years of funding for childcare. As we enter the third year of that $1.3-billion investment, it’s time for government to look to Budget 2020 and beyond to build on their accomplishments. Much more remains to be done.

Government needs to strengthen its policies in order to fulfill its commitment to build a quality, affordable childcare system — a system that 90 per cent of British Columbians confirmed is important in a 2019 Research Co. poll.

There are solutions, based on research and evidence, that advocates used to create the $10aDay Plan. They built province-wide, cross-sectoral support for public investment in a strong childcare system where educators are fairly paid.

The system detailed in the $10aDay Plan serves children well with high-quality early care and learning opportunities, provides parents with the services they need and ensures respect for educators. It’s also good for the economy as more parents, especially mothers, are able to fully participate in the workforce.To date, there have been significant new Indigenous childcare investments that respect Indigenous leadership. Government has also implemented five key public policy changes that will help B.C. achieve its goals and leave a lasting legacy.

1. $10aDay prototype sites: 53 childcare programs across B.C. where families are already paying no more than $10 a day.

2. Fee reduction initiative: An across-the-board reduction of fees for all families participating in full-day licensed childcare programs.

3. Wage enhancements and workforce investments for early childhood educators.

4. Capital expansion of licensed spaces that prioritize new spaces with public partners, like school districts.

5. A minister dedicated to leading the work on childcare.

Read the article in The Tyee here...

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Recommendations for Effective Expansion of Licensed Child Care Spaces in BC

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The BC government is committed to creating 24,000 new licensed child care spaces by 2021. Consistent with $10aDay Plan recommendations, government is encouraging partnerships with public partners (school districts, municipalities) to help achieve this goal. However, government continues to rely on two expensive, risky, and unaccountable policies implemented by the previous government.

First, current capital expansion relies on inviting applications from others (non-profit, for-profit, and public sector organizations) to independently create new spaces. This reactive approach does not allow government to achieve economies of scale or cost effective investments in public infrastructure, nor does it ensure that spaces are created and maintained where the need is greatest. Even more worrisome, BC is the only province in Canada providing significant capital funds to create new child care facilities owned by for-profit businesses. Significant public funds are going into the acquisition of private assets rather than into publicly planned, owned and operated facilities. These approaches undermine government’s commitment to universal child care. The international evidence is clear. In countries with universal access to child care, the majority of services are publicly funded and delivered .

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Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce Support

COLUMN: Good business key to a great community: The Chamber

Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Catherine Holt shares her thoughts on 2019

"After housing, child care is the largest expense for working families. The Chamber applauded the provincial government for investing in 22,000 licensed child care spaces in the province. The Chamber has called on the province to deliver universal child care to ensure working parents can fully participate in the labour market. Again, we were happy when the province announced a pilot program to test $10-per-day child care at 50 sites.

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Expanding Child Care in BC

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