The B-C Government is announcing funding for 1,818 new licensed childcare facilities across the province.
45 Programs are awarded 11 million dollars in this third phase of funding to buy land, build facilities, and renovate equipment. To provide better access, the Province provided a map this week of all child care facilities for parents to see first hand what is available to them. Still, with 127 locations in Prince George, the demand remains high.
Director of Childcare Services at the YMCA, Lynette Mikalishen calls it a child care crisis. “There is a large demand especially for infant and toddler spaces in Prince George,” she said. “So that would be children zero to three years of age. It’s really difficult for those parents that are returning from work to try to find the care of their choice.”
While no new funds are dedicated to Prince George in this latest funding announcement, families in the city are receiving $3.85 million in child care subsidies between 2015 and 2016. Eight new spaces in Vanderhoof will also be created for infants and toddlers.
Minister of Children and Family Development, Stephanie Cadieux, says the Province is continuing to provide support. “Coupled with the childcare subsidies that we provide to families on low incomes to ensure that they can access childcare, we invest about 327 million dollars a year.”
However, what about the application process? Parents are calling day cares multiple times a week with hundreds on the wait list says Mikalishen. “There is a really large wait list so we do recommend that families really start looking early. I mean when you know you’re pregnant it’s not too early to put your name onto a wait list.”
Although Mikalishen mentions that getting your child enrolled is just half the battle. “The cost of providing the care has increased astronomically, so truthfully the cost of infant toddler care right now I believe is 925 dollars a month for full time care.”
Not to mention, with some day cares at full capacity, there are some safety concerns. Kathy Basaraba with Northern Health says the safety of children is paramount. “Right now we are looking closely at emergency preparedness,” she said. “Making sure that all of our facilities have that plan in place in the event of a major catastrophe or an emergency and that the children, the staff, and everyone knows exactly what to do.”