B.C. municipalities, regional districts get about $17 million to plan and build licensed child care spaces

B.C. municipalities and regional districts can now access nearly $17 million in funding to plan and build licensed child care spaces that will best meet the needs of local families.

“The Government of Canada is committed to helping middle-class families access quality early learning and child care,” said Jean-Yves Duclos, federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, on Tuesday. “Today’s announcement will ensure that more families and children have a real chance to succeed right across British Columbia.”

The Government of B.C. is investing $13.7 million from its Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the Government of Canada through the first of two new partnership programs with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM). The first program, called the Community Child Care Space Creation Program, will create 1,370 new licensed child care spaces, with a focus on infant and toddler care.

“Local governments know their communities best and have strong relationships with public-sector organizations,” said Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister of Children and Family Development. “This makes them uniquely able to create child care spaces where they are most needed in order to best meet the needs of their local families.”

Municipal and regional governments in B.C. are eligible for up to $1 million per project through the new Community Child Care Space Creation Program. Priority will be given to projects that build spaces that serve infants and toddlers, offer care outside of regular business hours, are operated by a public body or non-profit, and / or benefit underserved populations, including:

* Indigenous families and communities,

* Children with extra support needs,

* Lower-income families,

* Parents under age 25 who are completing their secondary education, and

* Minority language and cultural groups, including recent immigrants and refugees, and francophone families.

“Local governments have been calling on the provincial government to invest in high-quality child care to make it affordable and accessible, so today’s announcement is welcome news,” said Wendy Booth, UBCM president. “This funding will strengthen understanding of local needs and develop new child care spaces in B.C. communities.”

The second project will provide $3 million in new provincial funding to UBCM to administer a Community Child Care Planning grant program that will enable local governments to work with their communities to identify their specific needs around child care spaces. Local governments are now eligible to apply to UBCM for up to $25,000 from the planning program, which is targeted to communities that are interested in creating new child care spaces over the next 10 years.

“The ability to plan for child care space at the local level will help ensure that new spaces are created in areas with the greatest need,” said Katrina Chen, B.C.’s Minister of State for Child Care. “It will also help identify community assets and partnerships that are the most likely to be successful and sustainable.”

Work is also underway to make sure that Indigenous communities in B.C. – including First Nations, Métis and urban communities – also have support to improve access to early learning and child care. The Province will announce new partnerships in the coming months.

Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley, said: “As an MLA, I regularly hear from child care providers and early childhood educators who are looking to do more for B.C. parents. By providing funding and support through these partnerships with UBCM, government is helping these organizations to deliver innovative child care solutions that will provide long-term benefits for their communities.”