New benefit helps 60,000 more B.C. families with child care expenses

John Horgan

WITH the launch of its new Affordable Child Care Benefit (ACCB), the provincial government said on Thursday it is making child care more affordable for 80,000 B.C. families.

This is four times the number of families that benefited from the previous child care subsidy.

“Parents throughout this province have been struggling with rising child care costs, and it’s clear that we need to make child care more affordable for more middle-income families,” said Premier John Horgan. “Our hope is that this makes a big difference for families, and that they can get a little further ahead every month. When more parents can choose to rejoin the workforce if they want to, that’s good for people and the economy.”

In making the announcement, Horgan said the new benefit program will expand the household income threshold for qualification to $111,000, up from $55,000 under the old subsidy.

The new Affordable Child Care Benefit is part of government’s ChildCare BC plan, released in Budget 2018. Combined with the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative announced earlier this year, this benefit means some B.C. families may end up paying no fees for the child care they need.

“The new, expanded benefit will give parents more options – whether they choose to join or return to the workforce, find quality child care or just have a bit more breathing room in their monthly budgets,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Parents have been clear that this benefit – either alone or in combination with this spring’s fee reduction initiative – will make life better for their families.”

Over 80,000 B.C. families are now eligible for some level of support through the benefit. Under the previous subsidy, only 20,000 families were eligible. The benefit amount for infant / toddler care has also been increased, with some families now eligible for up to $1,250 a month per child, up from $750 per child, marking a 67% increase.

“Child care was neglected for too long in this province, leaving families worried and scrambling. We’re listening to what families need and our priority is affordable, accessible and quality child care for people around the province,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State of Child Care. “We’ve made a lot of changes since announcing our $1-billion ChildCare BC plan in February, and there’s more to come.”

Parents can apply now for the new benefit through My Family Services, a new online process that makes it faster and easier to apply for support. Parents can also use an online estimator to see if they are eligible for the benefit and how much they may be able to save each month.

The Affordable Child Care Benefit is the second affordability measure to be launched under ChildCare BC. The first, the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative, was launched in April 2018 and is helping licensed child care providers reduce their fees by up to $350. As of Aug. 24, nearly 3,000 providers have so far been approved for fee reductions, representing more than 50,000 spaces.

Under ChildCare BC, the Province is investing more than $1 billion in child care over the next three years, to lay the foundation for a universal child care system.

In the coming weeks, the B.C. government will announce the child care facilities that have been selected as prototype sites to offer child care at $10 a day or less.

Jamie Youn, parent and ACCB client, said: “The Affordable Child Care Benefit has been a huge help for my family. Before the benefit, I faced a dilemma on whether to work – with the cost of rent and my child care fees the second-highest in Vancouver. Before, I paid over $1,000 for child care even with the help of subsidy, but now I pay under $200 a month. I feel like government is investing in my child’s future, and I am so happy that I can work for my family.”

Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley and opposition critic for child care, said: “There is no better investment than in our children’s future. It has been a highlight of my working relationship with the government to deliver more affordable child care and early childhood education to British Columbians. I am delighted that 60,000 more families will now get better support through this benefit.”


Quick Facts:

* To date, the ministry has approved 12,511 children and their families for the Affordable Child Care Benefit. This includes:
* transitioning 10,674 children and their families from the Child Care Subsidy to the new benefit.

* welcoming 1,837 children and their families who are newly eligible for support.

* Since the My Family Services tool for the benefit was launched, more than 3,235 applications have been submitted.

* During the last week of August 2018, B.C. families used My Family Services to submit approximately 500 new applications and benefit renewals per day.

* The number of applications for funding usually peaks in September of each year. To make sure families and child care providers are well supported through the launch of the benefit, the ministry has hired 82 additional staff to process applications and answer calls. More staff will be hired through the fall as volumes increase.

* The Affordable Child Care Benefit works in tandem with the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative. To date, more than 50,000 spaces are funded through the fee reduction initiative, which means tens of thousands of parents are saving on child care each month.