B.C. Hits New Childcare Milestone
(Originally posted on July 22, 2020) Thousands of families in 34 B.C. communities will soon have access to quality, licensed childcare, as the Province marks a new milestone in its Childcare BC plan.
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“Despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, our goal to create new childcare spaces throughout the province continues to gain momentum,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “We’ve been able to fund nearly 16,800 new spaces in the past two years, helping to fulfil our promise of better, more affordable childcare options for children and families throughout B.C.”
Since March 2020, when the Province announced a childcare milestone of more than 13,000 new licensed spaces, an additional 3,160 new licensed childcare spaces have been funded throughout the province under the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund. July marks the second anniversary of the launch of the fund, under which an average of 700 new spaces have been approved for funding each month.
Chen and Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo, celebrated the latest achievement with the board of education of School District 68 (Nanaimo-Ladysmith). The district received the majority of the region’s 536 newly approved spaces to proceed with 10 projects that will create licensed childcare spaces on school grounds.
“I’m happy to welcome newer childcare projects to Nanaimo so that families have more options for care,” Malcolmson said. “Our government is making it easier to offer childcare on school grounds, which is more convenient for parents and helps provide kids with a smoother transition to kindergarten.”
Recent changes made by the government to the School Act will make it even easier for school boards to create and operate before- and after-school care. The changes will also require school boards to prioritize space that is not being used for K-12 students for childcare and encourage school boards to adopt an inclusive childcare policy.
“For too long, families throughout B.C. have struggled to find quality, affordable childcare close to home,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “We’re making it easier for childcare to be delivered on school properties, because children benefit when they spend more time in spaces that are already designed for enrichment and play, and families save time and money with one central drop-off location in their neighbourhoods.”
In addition to the projects on school grounds, Nanaimo will receive Childcare BC New Spaces funding to support two non-profit projects – one through the Discover Montessori Society and one through the Nanaimo Innovation Academy Foundation.
“These new spaces are part of the fastest province-wide creation of childcare spaces in B.C.’s history,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “They demonstrate our ongoing commitments to making life more affordable for B.C. families and to building a strong, resilient economy that benefits everyone.”
An additional 4,110 spaces, funded through the 2017 Budget Update and the Early Learning and Child Care agreement with the Government of Canada, takes the total to nearly 20,900 spaces since July 2017.
Investing in childcare and early childhood education is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
“High-quality childcare that is accessible for families throughout the province is an absolutely essential aspect of our COVID-19 economic recovery, and I am pleased to see more spaces being announced at this time. We will continue to work collaboratively to further improve childcare and support B.C. families.”
- Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley
“Childcare is both a family and an economic issue facing many people in our community, which at times keeps parents up all night. Thanks to the Province, parents in Nanaimo can now have some peace of mind knowing that there will be additional childcare spaces available in our city that will lay the foundations of learning and early childhood development for their children.”
- Leonard Krog, mayor, City of Nanaimo
“As a parent of two school-aged children, I know first-hand the challenges families face when searching for childcare. This continues to be a topic of conversation throughout the school district for parents. I applaud our government for identifying this major hurdle for our families and funding these greatly needed childcare spaces throughout our entire district.”
- Charlene McKay, chair, Nanaimo-Ladysmith Board of Education
“We are grateful for the investment by the New Spaces Fund toward the development of our Montessori Farm School Campus in Nanaimo. Our farm-based children’s campus will enable more families to have access to desperately needed infant-toddler, preschool and elementary childcare spaces in the area. Designed with environmental sustainability and zero carbon in mind, the campus will be clean, bright and welcoming for children, and will offer many hands-on opportunities to connect students with nature.”
- Cynthia Dyer, principal and executive director, Discover Montessori Society