British Columbia

B.C. parents could save up to $550 per month on their child-care fees starting Dec. 1

Parents of kindergarten-aged kids and younger will see big savings on their daycare bills starting Dec. 1. 

The savings aren't available at unlicensed daycares or centres that opt out

The fee reductions are available at licensed daycare centres that have signed up for the government subsidy. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Parents of kindergarten-aged kids and younger will see big savings on their daycare bills starting Dec. 1. 

That's when a child-care fee reduction from the Ministry of Education and Child Care comes into effect, saving families up to $550 per eligible child per month.

Parents and guardians can expect to see savings of:

  • $550 for kids under three years old.
  • $445 for kids aged 3 - 5.
  • $220 for kids in kindergarten.

The province is directly funding daycare centres, so parents are not required to sign up.

The fee reductions build on earlier savings of $350 per month for children under three years old in group care — meaning their fees will be cut by a total of up to $900 a month.

The savings are funded through an early learning and child care agreement between B.C. and the federal government.

The government has also launched a new tool to help families calculate how much they will save in childcare costs.

A step forward, says affordability advocate

Brianne Stevens, who owns Sweet Peas daycare in Abbotsford, a small child-care centre run out of her home, says her clients are excited and some even shocked at the fee reduction.

"It's huge for some of my families."

Stevens said one of her clients who has three kids in daycare is now saving more than $1,000 a month.

"It's a big savings."

Sharon Gregson has long advocated for affordable child care in B.C. She says the latest reduction in fees is a huge milestone and a step forward on the path to bringing $10-a-day child care to centres across the province.

"It's no secret that licensed child care is really expensive," she said.

"Any way you look at it, this is great news for families from an affordability point of view, helping them [parents] get into the workforce or stay in the workforce and helping kids access good quality care."

The province says the savings will affect around 69,000 children. (United Way Greater Victoria)

Savings not available at all daycares

The fee reduction is only available at licensed daycare centres that have signed up.

The province says operators providing more than 96 per cent of eligible spaces in B.C. have signed up.

And the savings are expected to impact around 69,000 children across the province.

Gregson recognizes that some operators have chosen not to be part of the program, as well as unlicensed operators who are excluded, but she says it offers families options.

"The goal is to have families have a choice of licensed child care if they choose it," she said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joel Ballard is a reporter with the CBC in Vancouver. You can reach him at joel.ballard@cbc.ca

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