The B.C. government is inviting licensed child care providers to sign up for a pilot program to begin its universal child care plan.
The pilot project is to “model” child care at a cost of $200 a month per child and use the results to plan an expanded program, says a statement released Friday by the provincial and federal governments.
“The new prototype sites, which will run from Sept. 1 2018 to March 31, 2020, will convert approximately 1,800 licensed child care spaces at existing facilities around the province into low-cost spaces for families,” says the statement from the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development and Employment and Social Development Canada.
“For eligible families with an annual pre-tax income of less than $45,000, child care will be free at these facilities through the new Affordable Child Care Benefit, which will officially roll out in September 2018. Families with a pre-tax income under $111,000 will pay less than $10 a day.”
B.C. Finance Minister Carole James introduced the government’s first step in subsidized child care in her February budget, funding licensed child care spaces to reduce parents’ fees up to $350 per month.
The pilot program will give priority to Indigenous parents and children, immigrants, parents under 25, francophone families, parents who work shift work or extended hours. Another priority group is described as “families with children who have diverse/extra support needs and/or require inclusive child care spaces.”
Webinars are being offered for licensed child care providers eligible to apply.
The 1,800 spaces planned for the pilot program is the same number as the construction of new spaces announced by the previous B.C. Liberal government in 2016.
Projects in the Lower Mainland include six sites in Surrey, two each in Abbotsford, Langley and Coquitlam and one each in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Burnaby, Delta and Squamish.
On Vancouver Island, funding was provided to three projects in Duncan and one each in Nanaimo, Victoria, Comox, Port Hardy and Tofino.
In the B.C. Interior, three projects were approved for Kelowna, two in Penticton, and one each in Naramata, Castlegar, Cranbrook, Enderby, Princeton, Houston, Kamloops, Merritt, Vanderhoof and Dawson Creek.