Starting Early: If it takes a community...

Starting Early: If it takes a community to raise a child, this might be the place to start.

By Kathy Booth in the Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows Times

The first paid job I ever had was babysitting.

I started out taking care of my brothers occasionally (paid with a Mama Burger and root beer) to babysitting at the neighbours for real money.

The going rate was thirty five cents an hour, and fifty cents for each hour after midnight.

At fourteen, I spent the summer caring for three little kids while their parents worked. When I look back on it now, I realize I was really just a child looking after younger children. I didn’t have first aid training; I didn’t have early childhood development knowledge. Everything I knew or did was based on being the second oldest in a large family. The importance of trained, licensed child care providers wasn’t even on the radar.

But then again, at that time, most families could live on one income, and there weren’t many single parent families around.

Jumping forward a bunch of decades, life is quite different. It takes two parents working to earn the equivalent family income that one parent earned decades ago. And single parent families are much more common.

All this translates into a huge need for affordable, quality child care. In BC, we have licensed child care spaces for only about 20 percent of the kids. And those spaces are costly.

Parent fees for child care range from $800 per month for preschoolers to more than $1000 per month for infants or toddlers. For many households, the cost of child care is only slightly less than that for basic needs such as housing. With high fees and too few regulated spaces, parents are struggling to find safe alternatives for their children. Inadequate child care options results in underemployed parents and, for some, contributes to the cycle of poverty. One solution to the problem is a community plan  proposed by the Coalition of Child Care Advocates and the Early Childhood Educators of BC.

Known simply as “$10 a Day Child Care Plan,” it is a made in BC plan for BC families, offering a solution to the child care crisis that includes affordable, accessible, and quality child care.

Full time spots would be $10 a day; part time would be $7 a day, and families with incomes below $40,000 would be exempt from any fees.

The plan would provide a child care system that integrates care and learning into one service combining the strengths of quality, community-based child care with those of the public education system. It would also offer a regulated space for every child whose family wants or needs it, in homes and centres that would reflect the rich diversity of BC communities. The economic benefit to the province from more fully employed parents would be greater than the cost associated with implementing the program. Essentially, it’s a win/win situation.

If it takes a community to raise a child, this might be a good place to start. For more information, check out and for information on programs and resources for families with young children, follow the Ridge Meadows Early Childhood Development Committee on facebook or twitter and check out the website at

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