Early Childhood Care educators want best for families
Kristi Dobson / Alberni Valley Times
May 14, 2015 12:00 AM
Early childhood care workers are optimistic with the support that has been shown towards the $10/day Child Care Plan. Those in the field believe the initiative for more affordable child care would benefit not only families, but the quality of care their children receive. According to Ashley Salmon, program manager at Stepping Stones Alberni and co-chair of the Port Alberni branch of ECEBC, the Alberni Valley Childcare Society endorses the plan. "A big reason it is important is because it will make quality childcare universal and sustainable to families," Salmon said. Under the plan, child care fees would be capped at $10 per day for full-time programs and $7 for part-time. There would be no user frees for families with a total yearly income of $40,000 or less.
"Many working families just can not afford child care," Salmon said. "Especially in bigger cities, it can be unaffordable."
In local daycares, enrollment and fees vary according to agerelated programs.
At Stepping Stones Alberni, Salmon said the infant and toddler program is very expensive and the waitlist status is often on and off. The ratio of staff is one for every four kids and some parents choose not to commit due to higher fees.
"Everyone should have access to quality early care and learning,"
Salmon said. "With this program, parents can choose what works for their family and be supported by our government."
Those who are turned away by waitlists are sometimes faced with looking for help from friends and family.
Currently those eligible for child care subsidies are based on a family income of less than $36,000. This is a concern for educators, who see the difficulty paying the difference and making ends meet.
"The child care commitment takes up the majority of some family's income," said Nicole Bezanson, program coordinator of Hummingbird Child Care Centre.
The main thing educators want to see is a right for all children to receive quality care before entering the school system.
"At five, a child has the right to go to Kindergarden, there is always a space available," Salmon said. "But for daycare and preschool, kids don't have that. We want to see a universal plan that creates spaces for kids and access for all families across the province."
If more spaces are open, it could also open up more opportunities for educators looking for work in the field.
"Today's ECE's don't make a living wage so this would increase pay," Salmon said. "It will also allow for more training opportunities for workers to continue their education." If implemented, owners of all not-for-profit, private and family child care facilities will be able to choose whether or not they want the new system to be a part of their centre.
Already gaining the support of two million businesses, organizations, local governments and individuals in the province, advocates want to ensure the issue is at top of the election agenda.
"The message we are getting is that the public supports quality, affordable child care," said Sharon Gregson, a spokesperson for the Coalition for the Childcare Advocates of B.C. "Now we need the government to support families with kids because the child care crisis is getting worse each year."
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