The B.C. government is investing $136 million to support quality child care and early childhood education. (Okanagan Waldorf School okanaganwaldorfschool.org)

The B.C. government is investing $136 million to support quality child care and early childhood education. (Okanagan Waldorf School okanaganwaldorfschool.org)

Okanagan meeting set to discuss recent childcare investments

As of Sept. 5 the B.C. government is investing $136 million to support quality child care and ECEs.

The Early Childhood Educators of BC North Okanagan Branch are planning a community meeting Oct. 18 at the Vernon Regional Library to discuss recent developments in funding.

Officially announced Sept. 5, the B.C. government is investing $136 million to support quality child care, and its new Early Care and Learning Recruitment and Retention Strategy will help support Early Childhood Educators, ECEs, by providing wage enhancements, on-the-job training opportunities and other measures designed to support professionals at the centre of B.C.’s child care system.

The strategy also includes $16.3 million from the Government of Canada for ECE bursaries and professional development.

Related: Bursary, pay increases coming for B.C. early childhood educators

Related: For the kids

“This is an important step we have awaited to improve the childcare system,” said Leola McMillan, Chair of ECEBC North Okanagan Branch. “The recent announcement shows the governments commitment to building a childcare system that values the role of professionals, the early childhood educators who hold one of the most important jobs in society: caring for and educating our youngest citizens.”

McMillan said the focus of this event will be to share, clarify and celebrate the recent provincial government investment in Early Childhood Educators.

“Early childhood educators are the heart of B.C.’s child care system, and their passion and dedication are key to setting B.C. kids on the path to future success,” said Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister of Children and Family Development. “As we build new licensed child care spaces, we know that we also need to build the ECE workforce. Our government appreciates the important work early childhood educators do every day, and with this strategy, we aim to support ECEs throughout their career — because when we invest in child care, everyone benefits.”

The strategy is part of the provincial government’s three-year $136 million investment to boost the quality of B.C.’s child care system and recognize ECEs for the work that they do.

Through the new strategy, the B.C. government aims to encourage more people to become or stay on as ECEs to give children the best possible start in life. By improving recruitment and retention, the goal is for more B.C. families to have access to high-quality, stable child care programs. Addressing recruitment also supports child care providers, who have cited a lack of qualified educators as a key hiring challenge.

“It’s time that early childhood educators are treated and supported like the professionals they are,” said Katrina Chen, B.C.’s Minister of State for Child Care. “Early childhood educators, next to parents, are children’s first teachers, and the work they do needs to be valued. We’re taking the first step in truly acknowledging and supporting child care providers in B.C. in a concerted, substantive and organized way.”

This meeting will be the first celebration in the North Okanagan. It also marks 50 years of ECEBC, Early Childhood Eductators of B.C.

The next event will take place Nov. 18 on National Child Day at the Vernon Recreation Center.

The group is also planning a regional “early years conference” with several community agencies on Nov. 23- 24 at Okanagan College with the topic of Truth & Reconciliation.