THE British Columbia government is extending the deadline for child-care providers to opt into the new child-care fee reduction, to allow more providers to pass on savings to parents for their April child-care fees, Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care, announced on Monday.
“After waiting so many years for action on child care, we’re going to make sure parents can start saving immediately,” said Chen. “At the same time, we’re listening to providers and assisting those who want to come on board, but who want more information to complete the process of opting in.”
The British Columbia government introduced its child-care strategy in February’s budget, including a $1-billion investment over the next three years. As part of this strategy, many parents of kids in licensed care will have their fees reduced through direct payments from government to providers.
“Having government invest in families and child care is brand-new territory for providers and parents, so it’s understandable that questions have come up about how it will work,” said Chen. “We are going to work with providers to bring fees down and make life more affordable for parents, and we want to make sure those providers have the information and time they need.”
Chen said the initial response from child-care providers to the fee reduction program has been overwhelmingly positive, with an 85% opt-in rate from the 765 providers whose contracts have been processed, as of March 24. The deadline for opting in has been extended to April 20 to give providers more time, particularly because the startup is occurring over spring break when many providers are away.
Effective April 1, parents at participating facilities will see savings of up to:
- $350 per month for group infant and toddler care.
- $200 per month for family infant and toddler care.
- $100 per month for group care for children aged three years to kindergarten.
- $60 per month for family care for children aged three years to kindergarten.
All licensed child-care providers, who pass along fee reductions to parents, will also receive a 10% funding boost for any spaces that government funds through the new initiative.
“At the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC, we will certainly opt in to the child-care fee reduction initiative,” said Deb Bryant, CEO of ANHBC. “We’re glad to be part of an initiative that provides some financial relief to the families we serve.”
ANHBC is a non-profit organization that provides child care to hundreds of families across the Lower Mainland through its community-based programs. ANHBC has more than 1,000 licensed spaces in all.
“It is so good to finally see some recognition of the importance of child care to the well-being of families and neighbourhoods, not to mention the health of our economy,” said Bryant. “We expect that this is the first of many steps toward building an affordable, accessible, quality child-care system in B.C., and we are ready and willing to participate.”
- Under Budget 2018, the Province is investing more than $1 billion into child care over the next three years to help lay the foundation for a universal child-care system that will provide access to affordable, quality child care for anyone in B.C. who wants or needs it.
- The provincial investment in early care and learning is supplemented by approximately $153 million in federal funding over three years, beginning in 2017-18, through a bilateral early-learning and child-care (ELCC) framework agreement.
- In 2018-19, the Province will focus on creating more infant and toddler child-care spaces throughout the province, as well as reducing monthly child-care costs for B.C. families.
- In addition to the child-care fee reduction initiative, another affordability measure will be introduced in September 2018. The new affordable child-care benefit will help reduce child-care costs for lower-income families by up to $1,250 per month, and will support 86,000 B.C. families a year by 2020-21.