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Essential for Families: YWCA Child Care

YWCA Metro Vancouver has long advocated for affordable and accessible child care for families. We operate four early learning and child care centres and offer a range of options, including free short-term care for families in the Downtown Eastside and care for the children of teen mothers working to complete high school.  

In 2019, YWCA Emma’s Early Learning and Child Care Centre was selected by the Province as a prototype site to trial a $10 a day system. All our centres operate with support from government funding, parent fees and generous donors. 

Child Care and COVID-19 

Thousands of families found themselves in a difficult position at the end of March when many child care services across the region closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To keep families and our staff safe, we made the difficult decision to close our centres on March 23. We immediately began exploring opportunities to support the child care needs of those who could not stay home with their children. On April 20, with enhanced protocols in place, we opened Emma’s to provide temporary care for the children of essential workers.  

Emma’s joined a network of child care centres across Vancouver that have come together to support parents working on the pandemic’s front lines. We chose Emma’s in order to offer $10 a day child care to these families. The initiative was led by the YWCA’s Director of Family Services, Shannon Newman-Bennett, and was a joint effort of the entire child care team. 

“We are seeing the challenges of this pandemic affect families across the board,” Shannon said. “We have seen the critical role child care has played in our communities’ ability to respond to this pandemic, and are proud to be able to provide service to our essential workers during this difficult time. This crisis has highlighted the importance of a universal child care model that is inclusive, accessible and affordable, which is something we have been advocating for at the YWCA for many years.” 

Eligibility and access to these child care spaces is facilitated by Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre and are offered on a temporary basis. When we are able to re-open, the child care spaces will be returned to the families who had them prior to the pandemic.  

For BC families with young children, child care is the second highest expense after housing. Finding and paying for child care is an enormous obstacle and stressor for families, the burden of which falls disproportionately on women. The YWCA will continue to work as a strong advocate for a universal child care system, and the pandemic strengthens our resolve. 

This article was originally published on YWCA's Contact Newsletter | Spring/Summer 2020 - COVID-19 Response Issue

To make a donation for child care for families in the Downtown Eastside, please contact Kathy Lilyholm at klilyholm@ywcavan.org | 604 895 5851 or donate online. To support a universal early learning and child care system in BC, please endorse the $10ADay plan

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