Three B.C. school districts to receive new province-funded child care within schools

By Sonya Kuitenbrouwer

The government of B.C. has announced it will be moving forward with integrating childcare spaces onto school grounds in three districts. 

In a press release Tuesday, the B.C. Ministry of Education and Child Care said an investment of roughly $2 million from the province will help to provide 180 new childcare spaces.

The ministry says schools in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Chilliwack, and Nechako Lakes districts will join the initiative, which will use existing school spaces and resources, in schools beginning in September of 2024.

Early childhood educators and support staff in the three districts are expected to be employed to provide school-aged care. Premier David Eby said the initiative will create stability for children and families.

“We’re partnering with three school districts to provide care on school grounds, so children benefit from familiar faces and places throughout the day and families can count on one pickup and drop-off location,” said Eby.

Spokesperson for the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC, Sharon Gregson says she believes the initiative will work well to address the needs of parents and children.

“For children, there are fewer transitions off-site. They know they’re safe, they know who their educators are. For educators, there’s more stability when they’re employed through the district. And for families, having one pick-up and drop off spot where they know their children are safe is really important. It’s really a win-win situation,” Gregson said.

“I’m really glad to see this is being prioritized. Some school districts are already providing this kind of care, so it’s great to see governments formalizing it, and giving school districts a mandate and funding to be able to do this.”

Gregson says the model addresses an important need in B.C.’s childcare system: programming for school-aged children, which she says is often forgotten about in the conversation.

“We need lots more care for zero to four-year-olds, but we cannot forget about the kids in elementary school. The announcement today really recognizes that school-aged child care is apart of the childcare system that we need.”

Gregson says she hopes to see more funding for care beyond before and after-school programs, including options for students to attend during school breaks.

The child care spaces are expected to align with regional affordability benchmarks set by the ministry. The province says families may also be eligible for fee reductions, up to $115 per child, per month. 

According the province, each district will be expected to create a model of care to address community needs within provincial guidelines.

The ministry say the initiative will help it gather critical information and integrate the model into other districts in the future.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today