B.C. launches $10-a-day day­care pi­lot project

For par­ents, it’s like ‘win­ning the lot­tery’ by re­duc­ing bur­den of care costs

Times Colonist - - The Capital And Vancouver Island - KATIE DeROSA

Par­ents will save thou­sands of dol­lars if their chil­dren are en­rolled in one of 53 child-care cen­tres that will of­fer $10-a-day day­care as part of a B.C. gov­ern­ment pi­lot project.

The 53 pro­to­type sites, in­clud­ing eight on Van­cou­ver Is­land, will of­fer $10-a-day day­care un­til March 2020 as the gov­ern­ment ex­plores the fea­si­bil­ity of one of its key elec­tion prom­ises: uni­ver­sal af­ford­able child­care.

Lexie Biegun, who owns Lexie’s Lit­tle Bears Child Care in Lang­ford, one of the pro­to­type sites se­lected by the prov­ince, said par­ents who used to pay $80 a day for in­fant and tod­dler care will now pay $10, a sav­ings of $1,400 a month.

Par­ents at the pro­to­type day­cares will pay no more than $200-a-month per child. Biegun said some par­ents cried when she told them that news.

The pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments will spend $60 mil­lion to sub­si­dize day­care for the par­ents of about 2,500 chil­dren, Premier John Hor­gan an­nounced Fri­day at one of the pro­to­type day­care sites in Van­cou­ver.

Hor­gan said he has heard from many par­ents who say their child­care costs are more than their rent or mort­gage, which he said is not sus­tain­able for work­ing Bri­tish Columbians.

On the Is­land, the $10-a-day pro­to­type sites are: • Fern­wood In­fant & Tod­dler Care in Vic­to­ria • Lexie’s Lit­tle Bears Child Care in Lang­ford • Grandma Marg’s Club­house in Tofino • Rain­bow Coun­try Day­care So­ci­ety in Port Hardy • Al­berni Val­ley Child­care So­ci­ety’s baby steps pro­gram in Port Al­berni • Hornby Is­land Day­care So­ci­ety • Tig­ger Too Early Learn­ing Cen­tre in Co­mox • Park­side Academy So­ci­ety in Dun­can.

Robert and El­iz­a­beth Kemp have two kids at the Fern­wood cen­tre, four-year-old Edie and seven-year-old Hazel.

Robert Kemp said be­fore the grant, they were pay­ing be­tween $1,300- and $1,500-a-month. Now their fees are capped at $340 for both chil­dren.

“It’s ab­so­lutely like win­ning the lot­tery,” he said. “I hope [the gov­ern­ment] can find a way to roll it out for ev­ery­one.”

Kemp said he and his wife, who also have a six-week-old new­born named Bishop, are re­lieved to not have to choose be­tween pay­ing for day­care, and sav­ing for their re­tire­ment and the kids’ col­lege tu­ition.

As Stephanie Tay­lor picked up her 15-month-old daugh­ter Macken­zie from Lit­tle Bears, she said the grant is “life-chang­ing.”

“For us, we just don’t have to worry about [child-care costs] any­more,” she said.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Carole James, MLA for Vic­to­ria-Bea­con Hill, said 99 fam­i­lies in Vic­to­ria will ben­e­fit from the sub­sidy.

Christina Dicks, pro­gram man­ager for the Al­berni Val­ley Child Care So­ci­ety, called the sub­sidy “ground-break­ing.”

The day­care started of­fer­ing the re­duced fee as of Nov. 1, and Dicks said par­ents were over­joyed. “I had one mom who said this made it a real pos­si­bil­ity to have an­other child,” Dicks said. “I had a par­ent say: ‘Now I can pay all my bills.’ ”

Jackie McMil­lan, a 30-year-old sin­gle mother who works as a nurse in Port Al­berni, said there was a time while do­ing part-time shift work when she was mak­ing just as much as she was pay­ing in day­care for her 17-month-old son, Cooper.

“It’s hard to save money, there’s no way to get ahead,” she said. “I was liv­ing pay­cheque to pay­cheque. Now that it’s only $200, I’m see­ing a huge dif­fer­ence.”

The 53 pro­to­type sites were se­lected out of a pool of 300 that ap­plied this sum­mer, said Ka­trine Con­roy, min­is­ter of chil­dren and fam­ily devel­op­ment.

Pri­or­ity was given to sites with in­fant and tod­dler spa­ces, but the sub­sidy was also given to non­profit agen­cies, pri­vate day­care fa­cil­i­ties, Indige­nous-run day­cares and fam­ily-run fa­cil­i­ties.

The pro­to­type day­cares will re­ceive gov­ern­ment fund­ing to cover their oper­a­tional and ad­min­is­tra­tion costs.

They then pass on the sav­ings to par­ents, re­duc­ing their fees to a max­i­mum of $200 per month for full-time en­rol­ment dur­ing reg­u­lar hours.

Dicks said the day­care cen­tre did not have to change any of its day-to-day op­er­a­tions or make any con­ces­sions to re­ceive the funds. The Al­berni Val­ley Child­care So­ci­ety and other pro­to­type sites will share their feed­back with the B.C. gov­ern­ment as it de­vel­ops its plan for uni­ver­sal day­care across the prov­ince.

“I’d love it to be for all fam­i­lies, but this is a great step to­ward $10-a-day uni­ver­sal child care,” Dicks said.

Biegun said the day­care will be “un­der the lens of the gov­ern­ment” dur­ing the pi­lot project. Par­ents will be re­quired to fill out ques­tion­naires and the day­care will pro­vide fi­nan­cial de­tails and doc­u­men­ta­tion, Biegun said.

She said her phone was ring­ing off the hook Fri­day with par­ents want­ing to get on the wait­list, which al­ready has more than 100 chil­dren. Biegun said she’s ap­ply­ing for a gov­ern­ment grant that would al­low her to add more child­care spa­ces.

The B.C. NDP made $10-a-day child­care a key pil­lar of its 2017 elec­tion cam­paign.

The gov­ern­ment has in­tro­duced a new child-care ben­e­fit un­der which fam­i­lies can re­ceive up to $1,250 per child.

There’s also a fee-re­duc­tion ini­tia­tive for li­censed child-care providers, which can ap­ply for as much as $350 a month per child­care space to re­duce fees.

Stephanie Tay­lor picks up her 15-month-old daugh­ter Macken­zie from Lexie’s Lit­tle Bears Child Care in Lang­ford, one of eight Is­land day­cares to be cho­sen as pro­to­type sites for $10-a-day day­care. Tay­lor says the sub­sidy is “life-chang­ing.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.