For the first time in a generation Early Childhood Educators in BC will receive a publicly-funded wage increase.
After nearly two decades of government ignoring the growing recruitment and retention crisis in the Child Care sector, new funding for wages and education are very welcome. Now that government is supporting the child care workforce, making child care more affordable for families and creating new licensed spaces, the foundations for achieving quality, universal child care are in place.
Wage enhancements of $1/hr in 2018 ($2,080 annually for a 40 hour week), with another $1/hr in 2020, are important steps towards addressing the recruitment and retention crisis across BC. Yet, today’s wages are so low – averaging about $17/hour province-wide – that we’ll be urging all MLA’s to support an additional wage lift before 2020.
My Evolution of an ECCE Perspective
I have been doing a lot of reflection over my forty-seven years in the ECE profession. With the advent of the current Provincial Child Care plan and the ongoing proposal for the Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning ($10 a Day Child Care Plan), there has been both a public and professional shift in perspectives on child care. There are many issues within this topic; however, the one that is playing on my mind of late is the aspect of the jurisdictional “home” for Early Care and Learning in B. C.
When I started in this profession in 1971, those in the field were called “preschool teachers” and even as students in training, we soon learned that “preschool” was the essential adjective of this title. There was an emphatic and defiant stance in not being categorized with simply the term “teacher” as that may associate us with the confines of schools and structured educational agendas. There was also the belief that ECE practice had a deeper understanding and appreciation for child development –in terms of both its compounding importance from birth and consideration of the whole child: physical, emotional, social and intellectual. In no uncertain terms would we, “preschool teachers” want to be grouped with school teachers or be considered part of the straight jacket of the education system. Though lesser in status, both practical and social, we had pride in our unique understanding and facilitation of child development and the translation of that into programs and practice.
Good news for families across the province! Today the BC government announced the next step on the province’s path to universal child care – funding for the creation of 22,000 new licensed child care spaces over the next three years.
Public partners, local governments, school districts, etc. can access $1 million for each project, not-for-profit organizations can access $500,000, and for-profit companies can access $250,000.
More licensed spaces can’t come soon enough for the thousands of families on waiting lists. Mums like Theo, who is currently looking for toddler care for her son. She says “I need to work knowing my son is safe and well-cared for – there should be a licensed child care space for every child who needs one.”
With long-overdue provincial government investment, child care in BC is finally on the way to becoming more available and affordable for families across the province. However, the third leg of the child care stool – quality – must be addressed promptly, starting with an immediate lift to ECE wages.
“More licensed spaces are desperately needed by families with young children - but equally desperate is the need to have enough educators to work in those new spaces. We’re anxiously waiting for provincial wage enhancement funding, “says spokesperson Sharon Gregson.
Child Care is finally seeing improvements in BC – good public policy that reduces parent fees, invests in Aboriginal Head Start expansion, improved maintenance grants, investments in child care for children with additional support needs, and funds to move unlicensed spaces into the licensed sector.
“However, we are concerned that public funds are still available to build facilities that will be owned by individuals and corporations, rather than publicly-owned like schools and libraries,” commented $10aDay researcher, Lynell Anderson CPA CGA.
No other province or territory in Canada provides such significant, open-ended public funding in the form of capital dollars for the expansion of private child care assets.
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.
Here's a copy of a recent letter sent to Katrina Chen, the Minister of State for Child Care (click here for a PDF version).Read more
As government takes its first steps to implement a system of universal child care, here's the latest on what you need to know.Read more
On behalf of our two organizations, the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC (CCCABC) and the Early Childhood Educators of BC (ECEBC), we are writing to you at an important time in the evolution of quality, affordable, accessible and inclusive child care in BC.Read more
$10aDAY PLAN SUPPORTERS ARE CELEBRATING the BC government’s commitment to building a quality, universal child care system. Child Care BC acknowledges the importance of a fairly- compensated workforce and a system built on affordability for all families.Read more
IN AN HISTORIC BREAKTHROUGH for BC children and families, Budget 2018 commits over $1 billion in new provincial and federal child care funding. Over three years these funds will be used to begin implementing Child Care BC — government’s path to universal child care. This level of public investment delivers on key recommendations of the community’s $10aDay Plan.Read more
A Joint Statement by the
Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and Early Childhood Educators of BC
The BC government’s Child Care BC strategy provides an opportunity for child care providers to receive more direct operating funding (CCOF), with accountability measures, to begin building a universal child care system. This approach is supported by the research, well underway in many other wealthy countries and Canadian provinces, and consistent with the widely-endorsed $10aDay Child Care Plan. We urge all child care providers to apply to join the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative promptly so that they can receive additional funds to reduce parent fees and participate in building a system of high quality, affordable child care in BC.
Here are some key points to consider:
1. Change can be challenging and will take time but the status quo – with unaffordable parent fees, low ECE wages, and too few licensed spaces - is unacceptable.
2. As proposed in the $10aDay Plan, government’s approach in Child Care BC includes all existing providers – licensed and unlicensed, centre-based, multi-age, and family, not-for-profit and for-profit – and supports them with additional resources to enhance affordability, quality, and access.
3. First steps on affordability, for those who opt-in to new Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative are:
- A long overdue 10% lift in base CCOF funding
- Additional funding to cover 100% of the required parent fee reduction
On the application forms, providers are asked to provide recent data on parent fees as well as planned increases for 2018/19. If approved for the Initiative, providers agree not to increase fees beyond their planned levels without prior approval from the Ministry.
4. In addition to the Fee Reduction Initiative, Child Care BC includes additional resources for a workforce development strategy that includes ECE compensation and, later this year, an Affordable Child Care Benefit that will replace and expand on the current child care subsidy system. We continue to urge government to address ECE compensation promptly, and to ensure that the new affordability measures are effective for both families and providers.Read more