Anxiety among private operators over clarity of BC child care change funding – Kelowna Capital News

A change in the way child care services are to be provided across British Columbia is now underway, creating a level of concern among owners and operators of private day cares.

Although the initiative began in 2018, it became more evident this spring with the transfer of child care services from the Ministry of Children and Family Development to the new Ministry of Education and Child Care. of children.

$1.2 billion in federal funding and a bilateral child care funding agreement with the provincial government is designed to provide accessible child care, labeled as $10 a day public funding , to all families in British Columbia.

The connection between child care and public education involves using public schools to improve child care spaces, which currently serve only about 20% of British Columbia’s children. kindergarten to 7th grade.

While most parents will welcome the change, there is some apprehension about the impact of expanding the $10-a-day subsidized child care system on licensed private child care operators. existing.

Jamie Robinson, assistant superintendent of central Okanagan public schools, said the idea is to bring a level of reliability to child care the same way public schools do to families.

“It is seen as providing continuity of learning in and out of the classroom.”

He discussed changes to the provincial child care operating formula at the Central Okanagan School Board’s Education and Student Services Committee on Wednesday, April 20.

Robinson said six regional administrative centers will be created to oversee the new ministry’s childcare responsibilities, as school boards will have no direct oversight.

Although no locations have been confirmed for these offices, the centers will represent the following regions: Kootenay-Boundary, Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Northern British Columbia, Fraser Valley and Thompson-Okanagan .

Robinson noted that a partnership to provide child care services already exists in the Central Okanagan School District, from a breakfast program to providing school space for program providers in the child care sector. for-profit and non-profit children’s, and running a provincial pilot project at Bankhead Elementary for a seamless kindergarten where the school provides preschool and afterschool child care with licensed staff.

Robinson said seven new programs will be rolled out in the 2022-23 school year across the school district.

He noted that there is some apprehension in the community of for-profit and non-profit licensed child care operators about the impact that government-subsidized child care will have on their businesses.

“I think ultimately there will be room for everyone,” Robinson said.

Sharon Gregson, provincial spokesperson for the Coalition of Childcare Advocates of BC, said big changes like this for the child care sector tend to make people nervous, which is further associated with the need for the government to communicate better “so that people are not afraid of what is happening. »

Gregson said the coalition generally welcomes the government’s redirected sense of importance to child care in British Columbia, and the inclusion of $1.2 billion in the 2022-23 budget to help to facilitate it is sufficient funding at this stage.

Gregson acknowledged that the child care status quo with long waiting lists, high fees and low salaries for educators in the absence of a province-wide salary grid is unacceptable. .

“The government had to do something. What we have asked for is to report on the use of this money for the creation and community delivery of improved child care services, given that it currently reaches only 20% of children, and not to create public assets,” Gregson said.

“The misinformation going around right now is that people are imagining the worst, that they will be bankrupt or repossessed, which is understandable when information is lacking, but the reality is that it’s just plain unfounded.”

Gregson reiterated that business owners in the child care industry must be part of the solution.

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