British Columbia

B.C. pilot program to offer $200/month child care, but few providers applying

The B.C. government is now accepting applications from child-care providers to pilot a program that would provide $200 per month childcare. But some daycares say the paperwork and hoops they have to jump through are challenging.

Program will convert 1,800 child-care spots in the province to $200/month, starting in September

The B.C. government is testing a program that will provide hundreds of families with $10 per day child care, but it's unclear how many daycare providers will get on board. (Mike Dotta/Shutterstock)

A B.C. child-care initiative, announced in early June, would give parents of about 1,800 children in B.C. access to $10 per day childcare — or $200 per month — throughout the 18-month pilot.

But with most of the application period already passed, the Ministry of Children and Family Development has only received 30 completed application forms from daycare providers.

Some daycare centres say they've been stymied by the hoops they have to jump through to take part in the program, which will launch in September. Some said their flexible daycare model disqualifies them. 

Julianna Issa, who runs West Point Grey Daycare in Vancouver, said she won't apply because the paperwork is too onerous.

"I don't have the time to prepare for this," Issa said on Thursday. "I need a lot of financial statements, and the accountant is also very busy.

"I'm not clear exactly on how much of the commitment will be on a monthly basis after I apply," she said, adding that applying for the program is something she did consider.

Julianna Issa, who runs the Vancouver non-profit West Point Grey Daycare, says the paperwork and required follow-ups to apply for the $10/day child-care pilot program make it an administrative burden. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care, said in a written statement that the pilot, which will cost about $60 million, is part of a broader plan to make child care more affordable, create more spaces, and add more qualified educators across the province.

"So far we have had a great response to the initiative, with several hundred participants calling in to the two information sessions we have held," Chen said in the statement.

One more information session will be held on July 4, before the July 9 application deadline.

A ministry spokesperson said there are about 111,000 licensed care spaces in B.C. that receive government funding, meaning the 1,800 that will be included in the pilot make up only a small fraction.

Those odds don't look good to Issa, who speculates that the location of her non-profit daycare, in a tonier Vancouver neighbourhood, might make it less likely that an application — if she had time to complete one — would be successful.

But Chen said they're looking for a range of licensed providers, "in order to ensure that the spaces represent the diversity of B.C.'s child-care system, demographics and regional needs."

Issa said the families who occupy her centre's 12 spaces, which cost about $1,650 per month, would certainly benefit from the discounted child care — and some already take advantage of other provincial subsidies — but her wait list is enormous, with about 300 hundred children in the queue. 

She said if some of the administrative burden could be passed on to the families, that would make the program more appealing to her. And if the pilot turns into a universal child-care program in two years, she hopes the paperwork would be more manageable.

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