How BC is Getting Closer to Affordable, Accessible Child Care
Second to housing, child care is the highest monthly expense for families with young children. In Vancouver, families can pay upwards of $1,400 per month for childcare–if they can find it.
Now that the BC budget is focused on families, there is hope that affordable and accessible early learning and child care can become a reality for families in the province.
The current provincial government has made substantial improvements to move towards an affordable system by lowering parent fees, providing funding for educator wages, training and education, creating more licensed child care spaces and more.
Here is a summary of government action over the last year:
The federal and provincial governments came to a new Early Learning and Child Care funding agreement where the federal government pledged to provide BC with an additional $153 million over three years.
Lowered parent fees
As of February 2018, families of more than 50,000 young children in licensed child care across the province started saving up to $350 per month under the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative.
The Affordable Child Care Benefit launched in September 2018, which provides additional affordability relief for families with annual incomes up to $111,000 and eliminates parent fees for most families earning less than $45,000 annually with children under age 3 in licensed child care.
Access and more licensed spaces
Capital funding has become available to support the opening of 24,000 new licensed spaces over the next three years. The government has confirmed its commitment to Indigenous-led child care, initiating an expansion of Aboriginal Head Start both on- and off-reserve. Funding is also available to enhance facility maintenance, move unlicensed spaces into the licensed sector and more.
Support for Early Childhood Educators
For the first time in a generation, Early Childhood Educators (ECE) in BC will receive a publicly-funded wage increase. BC’s ECEs will receive two wage lifts over the next two years (each at $1 per hour, or approximately $2,000 annually) plus a range of enhanced education supports such as paid practicums and professional development opportunities.
With funding from the Government of Canada’s Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, the provincial government launched Universal Child Care Prototype Sites around British Columbia in November 2018.
Along with over 50 other sites, YWCA Emma’s Early Learning and Child Care Centre was selected as a prototype, meaning that child care will cost families a maximum of $200 per month per child at these sites. The prototypes selected will provide the ministry with a deeper understanding of how to provide quality care at all levels.
Two hundred dollars per month is a drastic reduction from $1,360, the median cost for child care in Vancouver. Some families whose children attend these prototype sites have cited the initiative as “life-changing.”
For families, increased access to affordable child care might mean that extra money can go back towards the child. For families and single moms who are struggling to make ends meet, access to affordable child care means more options to break the cycle of poverty.
This is especially the case for single mothers, where it means the ability to join the workforce, pursue a career, more education or even to afford rent.
Here is what some of our moms are saying at the YWCA:
“It has been a huge help. It has given us some breathing room with two children in Early Learning and Care programs, we save $450. It has been very helpful.”
“The father of my child does not help with the cost of the child care fees. I am a single parent and the extra money goes towards my child.”
The YWCA will continue our work and advocacy to see universal child care realized across Metro Vancouver. We’re hopeful that the government will continue to make incremental progress to make child care more affordable for parents and families.