The week of May 10-17 has been selected as a Week of Action for Child Care. We know that 75 per cent of mothers in Canada with children under the age of six are in the paid workforce – part-time or full-time.
Two parent families are finding it more and more difficult to meet the needs of their families on a single income and there are many lone parent families who struggle to provide for their children. We also know that one in five children in B.C. lives in poverty and that one in three children in B.C. arrive at kindergarten vulnerable in one or more areas of development as measured on the Early Development Instrument administered provincially.
These issues are of concern to all members of society, not just those with young children. Whatever our political preferences, most Canadians have supported the idea of public funding for health care, education and social services of some description.
We are happy to pay taxes for children to attend school from kindergarten to Grade 12 whether we have children or not. We subsidize university education through our tax system. We certainly provide health care for all ages, and very much so for our senior citizens.
Yet when we talk about publicly funded child care, people often expect families to shoulder that huge expense alone.
Today’s young families are called “Generation Squeeze,” a generation with huge student loan debt, high housing costs, exorbitant child care costs and faced with supporting their aging parents as well.
Child care is both economically and socially a sound investment in society.
We often lament the fact that people collect social assistance and don’t work, but when we ask that we publicly fund child care so that families can work and invest in their family’s future, we sometimes have a hard time seeing this as an important investment.
The return on investment in a publicly funded child care system is huge. Economists have quoted up to a 254 per cent return on investment. Child care not only helps families to work and participate in higher education, it provides young children at the most important stage of their brain development with quality early experiences that lay the foundation for all the years that follow.
Quality child care has been shown to support school readiness, increased graduation rates, lower incidences of involvement in the criminal justice system, higher attachment to the workforce and better lifelong health outcomes.
We are asking that all citizens investigate the possibility of a national child care plan, the benefits this will have to society, the real outcomes that will result for the various parties’ platforms and consider carefully voting for child care in the upcoming federal election.
In B.C. we are promoting a $10/day child care plan and federally all the major parties have developed different approaches to solving the child care crisis in our country. Putting a few extra dollars into people’s pockets is not the answer – we need to build a system that works for all families.
It is important to closely analyze who benefits the most from each approach and ensure that our families and young children are supported to ensure a strong and sustainable economy and children who are prepared to be active, engaged and productive citizens.
Lynne Reside, Vernon