The City of Penticton has endorsed the provincial $10aDay Child Care initiative.
At the regular council meeting on June 18, council voted unanimously to send a letter of support to the provincial NDP government in relation to its planned universal child care program. The provincial government launched a pilot program in November 2018 with 53 participating daycares across the province which models the cost for parents at $200 per month per child.
Penticton’s Kinderplace OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre is one of the participating daycares and operates with 20 spaces for children under 36 months, 32 spaces for children ages three to five years and 2o preschool spaces. The program is expected to run until Mar. 31, 2020.
One Penticton mother and advocate for more affordable child care spaces approached the city about supporting the provincial government’s child care initiative after she noticed a shortage in the area. Amanda Burnett began collecting stories from local parents struggling to find a suitable daycare for their children. From there, she launched the Facebook page Waitlisted Project BC to share the responses and start a dialogue about what can be done.
Burnett presented to city council during the committee of the whole on Tuesday, alongside Sharon Gregson, the provincial spokesperson of the $10aDay Child Care campaign with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC. The coalition and the Early Childhood Educators of BC first proposed the $10aDay campaign in 2011.
“In B.C. now we’re getting close to 600,000 children (ages) zero to 12, and the vast majority of those children have mothers in the paid workforce. And yet we only have just over 100,000 licensed child care spaces,” said Gregson during the presentation. “So we have a lot of children in unregulated, and perhaps, low quality child care sector which is of concern. Child care is also unaffordable for many working families, it’s not unusual for families to pay a bill of over $1,000 a month for children between the ages of one to three, $750 for three to five year olds is not unusual, and in some communities you can pay over $2,000 for child care for one child.”
Gregson said the UBC uses the Early Development Instrument, which is a measurement of the population health of five year olds in the province. She said Penticton’s school district is on par with the province’s average of 32 per cent vulnerability.
“This means 32 per cent of the province’s five year olds are already considered vulnerable on one of the five developmental domains (physical, social, emotional, language and communication). It’s measured by school districts and in SD67 it’s at 32 per cent, which has actually gone up from 29 per cent in 2004/2007,” said Gregson.
Gregson said this is due to public policy not keeping up with “changing times and changing nature of families.” Burnett said she’s please with council’s decision to endorse the program, but said she’d like to see a city staff member dedicated to exploring child care options for the city and watching for grants that become available to that end.
“I think it’s a really good step forward, they saw the vulnerability index for children in our community. And they saw that it’s good for our community, it’s good for the families who live here and for the children, and for the economy as well,” said Burnett. “I hope to work with them in the future to improve childcare in our community.”
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