The importance of Child Care Month
Letter to the Editor
May is Child Care Month in B.C., an opportunity to highlight the importance of improving access to affordable, quality childcare throughout the province. Under the new Child Care BC plan – which aims to create more licensed spaces, while improving quality and affordability for families – the first step has been to lower childcare costs to provide some relief to families.
April was just the first month of the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative. We’re happy to say that, so far, childcare providers have applied to lower fees for 39,384 of 49,136 eligible spaces. Already, 25,309 of those spaces have been approved. This means parents have already begun benefiting from lower child care fees, with even more families expected to benefit as April applications continue to be processed and approved. Through our work with thousands of childcare providers who have opted in to the program, we have put more than $2.2 million back in parents’ pockets in this first month alone. More and more B.C. parents will see savings as providers continue to sign up in future months.
The list of childcare providers who are participating is now posted online, so parents can see if their provider has opted in and find out more about Child Care BC.
In addition, we want to make sure that we’re addressing the shortage in child care, so parents can find licensed spots for their children. That’s why we’re investing $237 million to fund more than 22,000 new, licensed childcare spaces over the next three years. During the coming weeks, we will begin to announce more details about enhanced and redesigned programs – like major and minor capital funding – that will help B.C. families find licensed childcare in their communities.
We are also committed to making sure that B.C. children can benefit from the highest quality care and early learning experiences. Early childhood educators (ECEs) are key to building a system of quality care and early learning. As we build more spaces, we need more qualified ECEs to staff new facilities. We’re working on a labour market study that will help identify key challenges in the sector and inform government’s response, as early as this summer.
We know that the recruitment and retention of ECEs is a major issue in child care right now. ECE workers have a vital role in shaping young children’s lives, and they need to be better valued and supported. Preliminary details about the study will be released this week, along with more information about professional development and educational supports that are available to ECEs throughout the province.
Child Care Month, and Child Care Provider Appreciation Day on May 17, 2018, also give us another opportunity to thank child care professionals, who work hard every day to support B.C. families and set our children on a lifelong path to success. If you know an outstanding childcare provider in B.C., you can nominate them for a Child Care Award of Excellence. Nominations close on July 29.
We can’t achieve our ambitious childcare goals unless we work together – with parents, childcare providers and communities. From May 21 to 25, we’re each touring different regions of the province, dropping in to childcare centres that have joined the fee reduction initiative, and talking to community members about childcare. These face-to-face discussions will complement a series of telephone town halls we’re hosting towards the end of the month – in the Lower Mainland, on Vancouver Island, up North, in the Interior and on the coast – to talk to parents about childcare and answer their questions.
Child Care Month will lay a strong foundation leading up to September, when parents will be able to save even more money through the new Affordable Child Care Benefit, which will be available to B.C. families with incomes up to $111,000 a year.
We look forward to continuing to work with all of our partners in the childcare sector, and moving in the right direction to fix the system for parents and businesses by implementing universal child care in B.C. and building an economy that works for everyone.
Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development and
Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care