The B.C. government is launching 53 prototype projects around British Columbia to provide child care that will cost families a maximum of $200 per month per child. The prototypes are being funded through $60 million from the Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the Government of Canada.
One of the first prototype sites will be the Frog Hollow Daycare in Vancouver. Parent Erin Frizzell relieved that the financial support is on the way.
“My husband and I both work in the arts and culture sector in Vancouver and it is a struggle for us to survive with housing expenses alone, no to mention daycare.This opportunity to pay an actual affordable fee for daycare means the world. It means we can put money into education,” said Frizzell.
“It means moving beyond surviving and into thriving.”
Parents of about 2,500 children will benefit from the prototype projects. The program is part of the overall child care strategy the provincial government launched following taking power in July 2017.
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But cost is only one of the barriers for child care considering there are waiting lists that in some cases parents get on even before they are pregnant. When B.C. Premier John Horgan was asked whether these prototypes would actually make the shortage even worse he said that isn’t the intention.
“I think this is a beacon of hope for families,” said Horgan. “We are very excited about heeding the demand, not denying it. That is why our federal partners are so important.”
The prototype sites will operate until March 31, 2020. Forty-three child care sites in B.C. started operating on Nov. 1, with a further 10 slated to start on Dec. 1. More than 300 B.C. child care operators applied to participate in the universal prototype initiative.
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The plan was originally to included just converting infant/toddler spaces. But the province worked with the federal government to expand the selection criteria to include sites representing all age groups and licensed child care types in order to get a sense of where the demand was for expanded child care.
“We are finding new ways to make it easier for families to get by every month and to save for the future,” Horgan said. “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.”
The prototype sites exist in urban and rural communities around the province and includes a range of operational models, from group child care, to family child care, to private and non-profit organizations.
The way it works is the child care providers at the prototype sites receive government funding to cover operational and administration costs.
“Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House applied to be a prototype site because we know that there are parents at our daycare who struggle to make ends meet, while having to pay expensive child care fees,” said Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House executive director Gary Dobbin. “Also, we wanted to be able to play a leadership role in providing feedback to government about how the initiative is working, what could improve it and the impact it is having on families.”