By Carole James
Over the years I’ve heard countless stories from families in our community about the challenges of finding affordable and quality child care. And this situation is not unique to Victoria - too few families in B.C. have access to child care that meets their needs. For those parents lucky enough to find a spot, they struggle to afford high child care fees, as existing supports and subsidies have not kept pace with the rising costs of care.
Businesses also feel the effect of unaffordable child care. Parents delayed from entering or returning to the workforce impact our economy’s productivity. The B.C. Business Council, the B.C. Federation of Labour, chambers of commerce, the Vancouver Board of Trade, and municipalities across B.C. have all urged the province to improve access to affordable child care.
It’s time that government started to listen to families, communities, and the ever-expanding body of research that shows that public spending on child care is a wise social and economic investment.
That’s why your government is making the largest investment in child care in B.C. history. I’m so proud that Budget 2018 marks the beginning of a made-in-B.C. child care program that will lower costs for parents, increase the number of child care spaces, and make sure those spaces meet quality care standards.
Reducing fees for parents
The child care fee reduction initiative, introduced in April, is one of two key affordability measures for child care. It is designed to provide more money to licensed child care providers so they can lower the monthly fees they charge parents.
Providers who opt into the initiative will use this additional funding to reduce their fees by up to:
- $350/month for Group infant/toddler (under 36 months) care
- $200/month for Family infant/toddler care
- $100/month for Group child care for children aged 3 years to Kindergarten
- $60/month for Family child care for children aged 3 years to Kindergarten
As of April 20, more than 1,500 providers applied for fee reductions for more than 33,000 spaces province-wide. Providers are eligible to opt-in at any time, and we are continuing to receive applications. If your care provider has not opted in, we encourage you to speak to them about this opportunity to reduce their fees and lower the costs to your family.
In addition to directly lowering fees for families with children in licensed care, Budget 2018 will also fund a new affordable child care benefit to help bring more relief to parents. This new benefit, which families will be able to apply for beginning in September 2018, will significantly lower the cost of child care for more B.C. families.
With these changes, families with pre-tax annual incomes of up to $45,000 will pay little to nothing for child care. Those who make up to $111,000 a year will receive a reduced amount, scaled according to income.
Supporting the transition
To improve access, we are working to create 22,000 new child care spaces across B.C. At the same time, we’re encouraging unlicensed providers to become licensed. We will do this by:
- boosting funding to build new licensed spaces province-wide;
- working to increase the recruitment and retention of Early Childhood Educators;
- providing start-up grants to unlicensed family providers to become licensed; and
- enhancing the licensing capacity of health authorities to keep up with demand of new licensed spaces
Our made-in-B.C. plan sets us on the path for universal child care. It represents real, transformational change in our society.
Our plan will be affordable for families and the province. It will be accessible for parents so that they can get back to work. It will give parents, grandparents, and caregivers peace of mind by meeting rigorous quality and safety standards.
For more information, visit: childcare.gov.bc.ca.
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Phone: 250 952-4211