letter to the Editor: Child Care

Congratulations to the City of Cranbrook for Endorsing the $10/Day Child Care Plan.

Congratulations to the City of Cranbrook for Endorsing the $10/Day Child Care Plan.

This plan has been in the media lately and unfortunately sometimes not all the facts where highlighted correctly, so as a member of the Early Childhood Development Committee, I would like to clarify some key points.

If and when government puts the Plan in place, child care will cost families $10 a day for a full-time program, $7 a day for part-time, and will be free for families who have an annual income of under $40,000. Every young child will have the right to participate in quality early care and learning programs that meet their needs. It will be up to families to choose what services work for them.

With new investments from the province, locally elected school boards will provide early care and learning programs in their communities with the operating funds they need to deliver quality programs. Early childhood educators will receive the respect and remuneration they deserve.

Child care, from infant and toddler care through to school age care in both group and family settings, plays a central role in supporting families, often so that parents can participate in the paid workforce, which supports a healthy economy through tax dollars and offsets the cost of child care.

Today, BC child care providers interact on a regular basis with the families of close to 65,000 young children. This makes child care the largest front line support service for BC families. And yet, the crisis gets worse each year. Due to high fees, many families chose unregulated, potentially unsafe childcare. We know that the first 3 years in a child’s life are crucial, therefore quality care is essential. Research shows that high quality early childhood education benefits babies of all backgrounds – especially those with learning and behavioural issues that make it harder to succeed in school.

Currently, B.C.’s childcare fees are among the highest in the country.

In 2012 the average monthly parent fees in BC were $1,047 for infants, $907 for toddlers and $761 for 3-5 year olds.

In 2012 the average monthly parent fees across Canada were $761 for infants, $696 for toddlers and $674 for preschool age children.

The Child Poverty Report Card released by First Call, shows that British Columbia remains near the bottom of the heap when it comes to most major measures of poverty. It also shows a growing gap between families at the top and the bottom of the income scale. BC’s child poverty rate dropped to 14.3 percent in 2010, still the worst rate of any  province except Manitoba, and higher than the Canadian average of 13.7 percent, according to the latest figures published by Statistics Canada.

The number of poor children was 119,000 – or about one of every seven BC children.

“Poverty robs children of their potential, and increases ill health. High rates of income inequality are known to produce higher levels of infant mortality, crime, mental illness, addictions, obesity, and lower levels of education and social mobility and trust. This is a recipe for a very sick society, unless we turn this around,” said Dr. John Millar of the  Public Health Association of BC.

Often childcare is the second highest expense for families after housing.

The idea of creating affordable childcare isn’t entirely new. Quebec implemented $5/day universal child care fees in 1997, which were later increased to $7/day. Many European countries also have low child care fees.

The City of Cranbrook, like many other communities in B.C. is affected by the childcare crisis in many ways. Parents are struggling to find affordable, quality childcare for their children, which sometimes prevent one parent from going back to work. This can cause financial strain on families.

Families who are considering moving to this area sometimes decide against settling here because they can’t find childcare for their children. This affects our economy as a whole.

Endorsing the $10/day Child Care Plan is not just beneficial for local families, but will help the city’s economy which benefits us all.

Niki Sinhart

Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) Site Coordinator for Cranbrook and member of the Early Childhood Development Committee

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