Prov­ince prom­ises to cre­ate more child­care spa­ces

The Prince George Citizen - - News - Jeremy HAINSWORTH

New child­care spa­ces are on the way for B.C. fam­i­lies as the prov­ince an­nounced com­mu­nity part­ner­ships Tues­day through the Union of B.C. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties (UBCM) to fund 1,370 spa­ces with al­most $17 mil­lion in fund­ing that has al­ready been an­nounced.

“We know how hard it is for fam­i­lies to strug­gle with the cost of liv­ing,” said Min­is­ter of State for Child Care Ka­t­rina Chen.

“This is just the start.”

Min­is­ter of Child and Fam­ily Development Kather­ine Con­roy said $13.7 mil­lion would go to the Com­mu­nity Child Care Space Cre­ation Pro­gram to fo­cus on in­fant and tod­dler care.

Con­roy said mu­nic­i­pal and re­gional gov­ern­ments can ac­cess up to $1 mil­lion per project.

Pri­or­ity would go to projects for in­fants and tod­dlers, those of­fer­ing care out­side reg­u­lar busi­ness hours, those op­er­ated by a pub­lic or­ga­ni­za­tion or non-profit and those ben­e­fit­ing un­der­served pop­u­la­tions, which could in­clude First Na­tions; chil­dren with spe­cial needs; lower-in­come fam­i­lies; and mi­nor­ity, im­mi­grant or refugee groups.

Chen said local com­mu­ni­ties have fre­quently used the UBCM as a fo­rum to lobby for bet­ter and more child­care.

“Un­for­tu­nately, your calls were un­heard and be­cause of that, there’s a child­care cri­sis in this prov­ince,” Chen said.

She said hav­ing the UBCM ad­min­is­ter the pro­gram would help de­velop part­ner­ships in com­mu­ni­ties where care is needed most

“We need local knowl­edge to bet­ter un­der­stand what is go­ing on in com­mu­ni­ties to give re­lief to strug­gling par­ents,” Con­roy said.

Con­roy also an­nounced $3 mil­lion for the UBCM to ad­min­is­ter a Com­mu­nity Child Care Plan­ning grant pro­gram.

The pro­gram would en­able mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to work lo­cally to iden­tify needs around child­care spa­ces.

Local gov­ern­ments are now el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply to the UBCM for up to $25,000 from the plan­ning pro­gram, which is tar­geted to com­mu­ni­ties that are in­ter­ested in cre­at­ing new child­care spa­ces over the next 10 years.

The fund­ing is part of a joint agree­ment with Ot­tawa an­nounced in Fe­bru­ary.

That an­nounce­ment al­lo­cated $153 mil­lion over three years to cre­ate the new spa­ces, pro­vide work­ing fund­ing to care providers for low-cost in­fant and tod­dler care and re­duce par­ent fees for at least 1,786 chil­dren.

“To­day’s an­nounce­ment will en­sure that more fam­i­lies and chil­dren have a real chance to suc­ceed right across Bri­tish Columbia,” fed­eral Min­is­ter of Fam­i­lies, Chil­dren and So­cial Development Yves Du­c­los said in a news re­lease.

An an­nounce­ment is ex­pected later this year on the use of al­lo­cated money to ex­pand cul­tur­ally based In­dige­nous child­care for on- and off-re­serve pro­gram­ming with 390 new spa­ces.

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