Expanding families’ access to child care is garnering support from some Vernon politicians.
The Early Childhood Educators of B.C. is urging the provincial government to initiate a system for early care, including child care that costs $10 a day.
“The economic and business return is so powerful,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky of the benefits of ensuring children develop at an early stage.
“We can’t afford not to do it.”
The ECEBC says child care costs are a significant stumbling block for many families, and the government should take action so it’s $10 a day for a full-time program, $7 a day for part-time and free for families with annual incomes under $40,000.
“There’s a lot of solid science and data behind it,” said Juliette Cunningham, a Vernon city councillor. “We will wind up with more educated, well-rounded workforce with stronger social networks.”
Thirty-six per cent of North Okanagan children under age five are deemed to be vulnerable in at least one area of development – social, emotional, cognitive, communications or physical.
“We are all impacted when children fall through the cracks,” said Lynne Reside, co-chairperson of the ECEBC’s North Okanagan branch, of crime, health care and poverty.
“If a child is struggling at three, that’s the trajectory for their life.”
Child care can cost families between $600 to $800 per child per month and more for infants.
“We don’t expect people to pay for roads, health care and education,” said Reside, who questions why child care is treated differently.
It’s anticipated the ECEBC’s plans could cost $1.5 billion per year annually for full implementation.
“It pays for itself in three years,” said Reside of the plan allowing more parents to pursue careers and expanded opportunities for child care workers.
“There will be tax revenue and savings for businesses that will substantially offset those costs.”
Support for an increased investment in child care has come from the Vancouver Board of Trade.