In just 14 months BC’s still-new government has taken bold steps to address the child care chaos. Finally, after 16 years of inaction on child care under previous governments, we’re now seeing substantial improvements. Based largely on the evidence-based $10aDay Child Care Plan, government is lowering parent fees, raising educator wages and education, and creating more licensed spaces.
Thanks to years of advocacy - from parents, grandparents, educators, and employers across the province – all of our elected officials now know how important quality, affordable child care is for BC children, families, communities and our economy.
Here are highlights of the BC government’s steps to date:
Lowering parent fees
Families of more than 50,000 young children in licensed child care across the province are saving up to $350 per month under the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative. Plus, the new Affordable Child Care Benefit is providing additional relief for families with annual incomes up to $111,000. Families with incomes between $60,000 to $80,000 per year will be paying about $10 a day. Families earning less than $45,000 with children under age 3 may pay no fees at all for licensed child care.
Creating more licensed spaces
Capital funding is now available to support the creation of 24,000 new licensed spaces over the next 3 years, prioritizing public partnerships with school districts and local governments, along with grants to support planning processes in communities. Funding is also available to help maintain existing facilities, move unlicensed spaces into the licensed sector, expand options for families working non-standard hours and increase funding for young parent programs and children with additional support needs.
Raising educator wages and education
Under the new Recruitment and Retention Strategy, BC’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) professionals will receive 2 wage lifts over the next 2 years (each at $1 per hour, or approximately $2,000 annually) plus a range of enhanced education supports, including expanded bursaries and professional development opportunities and more post-secondary ECE spaces.
Importantly, government has also confirmed its commitment to Indigenous-led child care, and has initiated an expansion of Aboriginal Head Start both on- and off-reserve.
With these first steps, key elements of the $10aDay Child Care Plan are now in place. We’re on our way to quality affordable child care in BC!
But, BC’s child care chaos can’t be solved overnight. There’s still much work to do to build the new system. This requires that government continues to prioritize child care investments in Budget 2019. Together, we need to keep government on track, ensure that every step leads in the right direction and push back against opposition to building a system of high quality, affordable child care for all families who choose it.
Let’s start by commending the BC government for its first big steps forward, encouraging them to ramp up investment in Budget 2019, and urging them to ensure that the ongoing rollout of universal child care in BC is consistent with the popular $10aDay Child Care Plan!
Check out www.10aday.ca to add your voice to the momentum.
Sharon Gregson, of Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC, leads the $10aDay Child Care Campaign and Lynell Anderson, CPA, CGA is the Researcher.