B.C. education assistants push for new childcare model

While many kids across B.C. are nervous about their first days of school, many parents are terrified because they haven’t been able to secure before and after-school care.

The union representing education assistants (EA) says it is pushing for an approach that it claims would eliminate the stress — “seamless childcare.”

Trevor Davies, secretary-treasurer of CUPE BC, says it involves before and after-school care in schools, with EAs providing the care.

“Utilizing your current existing spaces means there’s no upfront capital investment (in staff). Utilizing the education assistants that currently already exist and work for the school districts, provides that staffing,” he told CityNews.

Davies says the strategy would help with the recruitment and retention of EAs.

“Although EAs may be making a decent hourly rate, if they’re not getting enough hours, those aren’t livable jobs. So by increasing those hours, we think there will be benefit to the broader school system as well,” he explained.

Currently, Davies says, there are 10 pilot projects around B.C. that utilize the strategy. The goal is to see if the plan can work in practice, not just in theory.

“Once those start being delivered in one district, it’s going to create the pressure to do it in another. So, you’re going to see a bit of a multiplication factor. This makes too much sense for this to kind of crawl out as a program,” he said.

The provincial government doesn’t offer an account of how many spaces are needed but says “work needs to be done” to ensure there are enough childcare spaces province-wide.

More innovative childcare solutions needed: Surrey councillor

It’s not just schools that could take on the role of childcare before and after class, argues a city councillor in Surrey.

Coun. Linda Annis says new residential builds should be required to include school and daycare space.

“We need to be looking at innovative ways. Maybe this is a way that developers can make their community amenity contribution — by providing space for schools. We need to think out of the box. We can’t be doing the same old thing or we will be getting the same results,” she told CityNews.

Annis argues that including daycare in residential builds would make it easier for the parents living there, in addition to alleviating the space pressures that has schools increasingly relying on portable classrooms.

“We can’t get schools built fast enough. We’ve been fortunate; there was a ministry announcement a few days ago that we’ve got more schools coming here to Surrey, but that’s not keeping up with demand,” she explained.

The councillor says last year, Surrey saw twice as many kids move to the city than was anticipated.

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