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School House of Early Care and Learning Centre one of 53 prototype projects in BC

BC Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall (center) is joined Wednesday by staff at The School House of Early Care and Learning Centre for the 10-year ChildCare BC plan announcement. — The Nelson Daily photo

BC Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall was in Nelson-Creston riding this week promoting some of the changes the NDP has passed in the BC Legislature.

Mungall was a The School House of Early Care and Learning Centre in Nelson Wednesday to congratulate staff on being selected as one of the 53 prototype projects around the province to deliver child care that will cost families a maximum of $200 per month per child.

The prototype sites are the next major step in government’s 10-year ChildCare BC plan and will model what high-quality, affordable, universal child care may look like for B.C. families. The prototypes are being funded through an investment of $60 million under the Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Agreement with the Government of Canada. In all, parents of about 2,500 children will benefit from the prototype projects.

The Province selected the sites after a call for applications in June 2018. While priority was given to sites that had infant and toddler spaces, the Province has expanded eligibility to include other types of licensed child care.

“We are finding new ways to make it easier for families to get by every month and to save for the future,” said Premier John Horgan in a media release. “Through this kind of action, where we significantly reduce the cost of child care, we can make life more affordable for so many B.C. families.”

Under the initiative, child care providers at the new prototype sites will receive government funding to cover their operational and administration costs. In return, they will reduce parent fees to a maximum of $200 per month for full-time enrolment during regular hours and will share their feedback with the B.C. government to help inform the future implementation of universal care.

As well, each site will receive a one-time quality improvement grant in 2019 to help enhance the quality of the programs it delivers. The amount of the quality improvement grant for each site will be determined as part of the Province’s evaluations of the sites’ programs and improvement plans.

“Prototype sites give us a glimpse of what the future of universal child care in B.C. can be and are critical as we design and refine our program moving forward,” said Katrina Chen, B.C.'s Minister of State for Child Care. “They build on the work we’ve already done to bring affordability relief to thousands of families through universal fee reductions and the Affordable Child Care Benefit.”

Parents who are not accessing these low-cost spaces may still be eligible for support through the Affordable Child Care Benefit, which provides up to $1,250 per child a month for families with an annual income of $111,000 or less. Families using licensed child care may also see savings through the Child Care Fee Reduction, which has so far helped to reduce the cost of almost 52,000 child care spaces throughout the province.

Quick Facts:

  • The prototype sites will operate until March 31, 2020.
  • Forty-three child care sites in B.C. started operating on Nov. 1, 2018, with a further 10 slated to start on Dec. 1, 2018.
  • The Province initially planned to convert 1,800 licensed child care spaces into low-cost prototype spaces. More than 300 B.C. child care operators applied to participate in the universal prototype initiative. Initial plans only included converting infant/toddler spaces. However, in order to get a strong sense of what will be needed to expand universal child care in the future, the B.C. government worked with the federal government to expand the selection criteria to include sites representing all age groups and licensed child care types. The expansion of selection criteria and strong response from providers has allowed government to convert 37% more spaces than its original target.
  • Prototype sites exist in urban and rural communities around the province and include a range of operational models, from group child care, to family child care, to private and non-profit organizations.