British Columbia

3 B.C. school districts to launch fully integrated, daylong child care

Premier David Eby says offering parents before-and-after-school child care at the same location will save families time and money.

Program will start this fall in Chilliwack, Nanaimo-Ladysmith and Nechako Lakes school districts

A man with brown hair in a suit stands in front of a school.
Premier David Eby announced the province would put $2 million towards making 180 daylong child care spaces. (CBC News)

Three school districts in British Columbia will start one-stop child-care programs at local elementary schools this fall.

Premier David Eby says offering parents before- and-after-school child care at the same location will save families time and money, create less stress for parents and is an efficient use of school space and resources.

The three school districts that will start the program are Chilliwack, Nanaimo-Ladysmith and Nechako Lakes.

Eby says early childhood educators and school district support staff in the districts will provide learning and care for children in classrooms and school spaces they are familiar with.

He says the province will provide $2 million to the three districts over two years, creating 180 new licensed child-care spaces.

Eby says the program gives families greater flexibility for school drop-off and pickup times and saves time for parents commuting to multiple locations with their children.

"It's good news for parents. Their kids are looked after before and after school in the same building where they spend their days in the K-to-12 program," he said during a news conference outside Victoria's George Jay Elementary School. "It is designed to grow and it will enable us to roll this program out right across the province." 

'A drop in the bucket,' says professor

Sylvia Fuller, professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia, told BC Today on Wednesday that she's glad to see the government put money into daylong child care. 

"In our important focus on early childhood education and care, sometimes the after-school piece is a little bit of an afterthought," Fuller said. "If that care isn't available, and that care isn't convenient, it could potentially cause a great deal of stress and conflict."

She said most parents of elementary school children in the province are employed full-time and may be working when their kids get out of school at about 3 p.m. Fuller said Labour Force Survey data from this year found that about 11 per cent of mothers of the youngest school-aged children in B.C. say they want to work, but aren't working because they have to take care of their kids.

"That really speaks to a large number of women who are shut out of the labour force altogether because they don't have that before-school and after-school care," she said.

Fuller said she hopes the province will continue to build a more comprehensive child-care system.

"There's huge demand, and this is really a drop in the bucket," Fuller said.

"We need to build out this system and we need to make it comprehensive so it covers all those gaps and it's accessible and affordable for everybody." 

With files from BC Today