The dream of $10-a-day child care is closer for dozens of Coquitlam families whose daycares have been chosen for a provincial pilot project that substantially reduces or eliminates fees.
Kids Cottage Daycare Society, Hami’s Playhouse Infant and Toddler Daycare and Little Scholars YMCA Child Care are among 53 organizations across B.C. chosen to participate in an 18-month trial to evaluate models for a universal child care system. Families will pay just $200 a month per child for daycare and possibly less if they are already receiving a subsidy because of their income.
The program announced last week will enable the government to see the best way of delivering a universal child care program and given that there are a wide variety of daycare models — from private, to corporate and non-profit — all three types of daycares are participating in the pilot.
“This program is a game changer for families,” said Nathan Willard, who chairs the parent-run Kids Cottage Daycare Society. He said many of Kids Cottage's 54 families are shelling out child care fees that are the equivalent of a monthly mortgage payment.
“Now that we’ve got this opportunity, it’s allowed parents to reevaluate options they otherwise would not have had,” Willard said.
With families saving as much as $930 for a child in infant/toddler care, $540 a month for daycare for three- to five-year-olds and $195 for before- and after-school care, families have more money for extracurricular activities or to save for their child’s education, or are simply feeling less stress because the fee break means a relief to household budgets, Willard said.
Kids Cottage will also be able to reinvest more in materials at its centre located on the Riverview grounds and pay its early childhood education workers more under the pilot.
“Undoubtedly, this is huge for families and daycares, and for children that attend daycare centres,” Willard said.
Converting 2,500 licensed child care spaces, with a priority on infant and toddler spaces, into low-cost spaces is expected to cost $60 million, with funds coming from the province’s early learning and child care agreement with the federal government.
More than 300 applications for prototypes were reviewed and chosen sites reflect the diversity of B.C.’s geography, population, program types and operational models, according to background information provided by the province.
Continuing with the initiative and possibly expanding it after March 31, 2020 isn’t a done deal, however, and will require a renewal of the early learning and child care bilateral agreement with Ottawa, the backgrounder further stated.