Canada – British Columbia Early Learning and Child Care Agreement

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Between

Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada (hereinafter referred to as "Canada" or "Government of Canada") as represented by the Minister of Employment and Social Development (herein referred to as "the federal Minister")

And

Her Majesty the Queen in right of the province/territory of British Columbia (hereinafter referred to as British Columbia" or "Government of British Columbia") as represented by the Minister of Children and Family Development herein referred to as "the Provincial Minister")

Referred to collectively as the "Parties"

Preamble

Whereas, Canada and British Columbia agreed to the Multilateral early learning and child care Framework which articulates their shared vision for early learning and child care and describes their approach to achieve this vision;

Whereas, Canada and British Columbia have committed to work together to further develop child care, in full respect of their responsibilities to their residents, and recognizing that the Government of British Columbia has the primary responsibility for the design and delivery of early learning and child care programs and services in British Columbia;

Whereas, the Department of Employment and Social Development Act authorizes the federal Minister to enter into agreements with the provinces and territories, for the purpose of facilitating the formulation, coordination and implementation of any program or policy within the mandate of the federal Minister;

Whereas, the Child Care BC Act authorizes the Provincial Minister to enter into agreements with the Government of Canada respecting financial arrangements or other matters relating to the Child Care BC Act and the Child Care Subsidy Act authorizes the Provincial Minister to enter into agreements with the Government of Canada respecting financial arrangements or other matters relating to child care subsidies;

Whereas, Canada has, pursuant to its Policy on Transfer Payments, established a transfer payment program to provide funds to the provincial and territorial governments for the development and delivery of regulated early learning and child care programs and services for children under six years of age, with consideration for families more in need;

Whereas, Canada, in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, is developing a separate framework on Indigenous early learning and child care; and

Whereas, early learning and child care investments made by British Columbia may also support Indigenous children and families that reside within British Columbia.

Now therefore, Canada and British Columbia agree as follows:

1. Vision for early learning and child care

1.1 Canada and British Columbia agree that the long term vision, principles and objectives for early learning and child care, which are set out in the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework that is attached as Annex 1, will guide the investment of funds provided under this Agreement.

2. Early Learning and Child Care objectives and areas of investment

2.1 Objectives

2.1.1 Canada and British Columbia agree that over the period of this Agreement, with financial support from Canada, British Columbia will further build its early learning and child care system by addressing local, regional and system priorities that have an impact on families more in need by increasing the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity in early learning and child care, towards achieving the objectives of:

  1. Enhancing the accessibility of child care options by increasing the number of spaces;
  2. Increasing affordability of child care, beginning with Infant/Toddler care;
  3. Enhancing the quality of licensed child care programs by supporting the training and professional development of early childhood educators; and
  4. Enhancing equity through targeted investment in underserved communities – Indigenous families, families with children with special needs, and young parents completing their secondary education – improving access to inclusive, affordable, and flexible child care programs.

British Columbia's approach to achieving these objectives is set out in their Action Plan attached as Annex 2.

2.2 Eligible Areas of Investment

2.2.1 British Columbia agrees to prioritize funds provided by Canada under this Agreement in regulated early learning and child care programs and services for children under the age of six where:

  1. Regulated programs and services are defined as those that meet standards that are established and/or monitored by provincial/territorial governments.
  2. Early learning and child care programs and services are defined as those supporting direct care and early learning for children in settings including, but not limited to, regulated child care centres, regulated family child care homes, early learning centres, preschools and nursery schools.

2.2.2 In developing and delivering its early learning and child care programs and services, British Columbia agrees to take into account the needs of French-speaking communities.

2.2.3 Types of investments include: capital and operating funding for regulated early learning and child care, fee subsidies, training, professional development and support for people who work in the early learning and child care field, quality assurance, parents' information and referral, and/or administration costs incurred by British Columbia in implementing and administering this Agreement.

2.2.4 British Columbia also agrees to develop, promote, define, and deliver identifiable innovative approaches to enhance the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility, and inclusivity of early learning and child care systems, with consideration for those more in need.

2.2.5 Canada and British Columbia agree that funding will be targeted toward programs and activities, as described above, for children under the age of six, that will have an impact on families more in need such as lower-income families, Indigenous families, lone-parent families, families in underserved communities; those working non-standard hours; and/or families with children with varying abilities. Needs include having limited or no access to early learning and child care programs and services in the children's official language.

3. Period of agreement

3.1 This Agreement shall come into effect upon the last signature being affixed and will remain in effect until March 31, 2020, unless terminated in writing by Canada or British Columbia in accordance with the terms hereof in section 11. Funding provided under this Agreement, in accordance with section 4, will cover the period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2020.

3.2 Renewal of bilateral agreements

3.2.1 Canada commits that the annual allocation for the period 2020-21 to 2027-28 will be no less than the annual allocation of this current agreement. Funding for future years will be provided upon the renewal of bilateral agreements conditional on Canada's acceptance of new action plans and informed by the assessment of the results achieved under the action plan set out in Annex 2.

3.2.2 The renewal will provide British Columbia and Canada the opportunity to review priorities and, if required, realign new priorities in future bilateral agreements based on progress made to date.

3.2.3 In the event this bilateral agreement is renewed in accordance with the terms of section 3.2.1, British Columbia may continue to use funding provided thereunder to cover the same eligible areas of investment as those covered through funding received for the period 2017-2018 to 2019-2020 subject to the terms and conditions of that renewed agreement.

4. Financial provisions

4.1 These contributions are in addition and not in lieu of those that Canada currently pays to British Columbia through the Canada Social Transfer in order to support early childhood development and early learning and child care within British Columbia.

4.2 Allocation to British Columbia

4.2.1. Canada has designated the following maximum amounts to be paid in total to all provinces and territories under this initiative with a fixed base rate of $2 million per year for each province and territory and the balance of the funding on a per capita basis for the period starting on April 1, 2017 and ending on March 31, 2020.

  1. $399,669,692 for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2017
  2. $399,347,695 for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2018
  3. $399,347,695 for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2019

4.2.2. Subject to annual adjustment based on the formula described in section 4.2.3, British Columbia's estimated share of the amounts described in section 4.2.1 will be:

Fiscal Year Estimated amount to be paid to British Columbia* (subject to annual adjustment)
2017-2018 $51,036,249
2018-2019 $50,993,994
2019-2020 $50,993,994

*Illustrative levels based on Canada's population projections

Canada commits that the annual allocation for all provinces and territories for the period 2020-21 to 2027-28 will be no less than the annual allocation of this current agreement under the conditions set in section 3.2.1.

4.2.3. The final yearly amount to be paid to British Columbia will be calculated using the following formula F x K/L, where:

F is the annual total funding amount paid to provinces and territories minus the base funding;

K is the total population of British Columbia, as determined using annual population estimates from Statistics Canada;

L is the total population of Canada, as determined using annual population estimates from Statistics Canada.

4.2.4. For the purposes of the formula in section 4.2.3, the population of British Columbia for each fiscal year and the total population of all provinces and territories for that Fiscal Year are the respective populations as determined on the basis of the quarterly preliminary estimates of the respective populations on July 1 of that Fiscal Year. These estimates are released by Statistics Canada in September of each Fiscal Year.

4.3 In this Agreement, “fiscal year” means the period commencing on April 1 of any calendar year and terminating on March 31 of the immediately following calendar year.

4.4 Payment

Canada's payment will be made as follows:

The total payment for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 will be paid within 30 days after the signatures from both parties are affixed to the Agreement.

In 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, the semi-annual first installment will be paid on or about June 15 of each Fiscal Year. The second installment will be paid on or about November 15 of each Fiscal Year.

The amount of the first installment will be an amount equal to 50% of the notional amount of Canada's maximum payment to British Columbia for the Fiscal Year, which will be calculated in the manner described in sections 4.2.3 and 4.2.4.

The amount of the second installment will be an amount equal to the balance of Canada's payment to British Columbia for the Fiscal Year based on the actual amount of the payment determined under sections 4.2.3 and 4.2.4 for the Fiscal Year.

Canada will notify British Columbia at the beginning of the Fiscal Year of their notional amount. The notional amount will be based on the Statistics Canada quarterly preliminary population estimates on July 1 of the preceding Fiscal Year. Canada will notify British Columbia of the actual increased or decreased amount of the second installment in each Fiscal Year as determined under the formula set out in section 4.2.3 as soon as possible following the release in September of each year of the Statistics Canada quarterly preliminary population estimates referred to in section 4.2.4.

For 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, Canada may withhold payment of its second installment for the Fiscal Year if British Columbia has failed to provide its annual audited financial statement for the previous Fiscal Year in accordance with section 5.3.2 until such time as the annual audited statement is provided.

Payment of Canada's funding for each Fiscal Year of this Agreement is subject to an annual appropriation by the Parliament of Canada for this purpose.

4.5 Maximum annual payment in respect of administration costs

4.5.1 Canada's payment in respect of British Columbia's administration costs referred to in section 2.2.3 shall not exceed:

  • in fiscal years 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020 an amount equal to 10% of the maximum amount payable for those Fiscal Years.

4.6 Carry Forward

4.6.1 At the request of British Columbia and subject to the approval of Canada's Treasury Board, British Columbia may retain and carry forward to March 31, 2019, an amount of up to 75% of the contribution paid to British Columbia for 2017-2018 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by British Columbia in that Fiscal Year, and may only use the amount carried forward to 2018-2019 for expenditures on eligible areas of investment under section 2.2 incurred in that Fiscal Year.

4.6.2 For greater certainty, the amount carried forward to Fiscal Year 2018-2019 under section 4.6.1 is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to British Columbia under section 4.2.3 of this Agreement in 2018-2019.

4.6.3 The amount carried forward pursuant to section 4.6.1 must be spent by March 31, 2019. British Columbia is not entitled to retain any such carried forward amounts that remain unexpended after March 31, 2019, nor is it entitled to retain any balance of Canada's contribution for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 paid pursuant to section 4.2.3 that remains unexpended at the end of that fiscal year. Such amounts are to be repaid to Canada in accordance with section 4.7.

4.6.4 At the request of British Columbia and subject to the approval of Canada's Treasury Board, British Columbia may retain and carry forward to March 31, 2020, an amount of up to 10% of the contribution paid to British Columbia for 2018-2019 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by British Columbia in that Fiscal Year, and may only use the amount carried forward to 2019-2020 for expenditures on eligible areas of investment under section 2.2 incurred in that Fiscal Year.

4.6.5 For greater certainty, the amount carried forward to Fiscal Year 2019-2020 under section 4.6.4 is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to British Columbia under section 4.2.3 of this Agreement in 2019-2020.

4.6.6 The amount carried forward pursuant to section 4.6.4 must be spent by March 31, 2020. British Columbia is not entitled to retain any such carried forward amounts that remain unexpended after March 31, 2020, nor is it entitled to retain any balance of Canada's contribution for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 paid pursuant to section 4.2.3 that remains unexpended at the end of that fiscal year. Such amounts are to be repaid to Canada in accordance with section 4.7.

4.7 Repayment of overpayment

4.7.1 In the event payments made to British Columbia exceed the amount to which British Columbia is entitled under the Agreement, the amount of the excess is a debt due to Canada and shall be repaid to Canada upon receipt of notice to do so and within the period specified in the notice.

4.7.2 In the event that the second installment payment made to British Columbia is determined to be less than the amount to which British Columbia is owed under the terms of section 4, Canada agrees to pay to British Columbia, as soon as feasible, the amount determined to be outstanding by mutual written agreement of the parties.

4.8 Use of funds

4.8.1 Canada and British Columbia agree that funds provided by Canada under this Agreement will only be used by British Columbia in accordance with the areas for investment outlined in section 2.2 of this Agreement.

5. Accountability

5.1 Action Plan

5.1.1 British Columbia has completed and shared its Action Plan for the years 2017-18 – 2019-20 of federal funding with Canada, as set out in Annex 2. Upon signature of this Agreement by both Parties, British Columbia will publicly release their Action Plan which:

  1. Identifies specific priority areas for investment and objectives, within the Framework's parameters, based on an assessment of progress to date in the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and/or inclusivity of their early learning and child care system, with consideration for those more in need as described in section 2.2.5;
  2. Describes how British Columbia plans to address the early learning and child care needs of its children/families more in need, as described in section 2.2.5;
  3. Describes aspects of the planned spending for innovative initiatives;
  4. Demonstrates that federal investments will be incremental, and will not displace existing British Columbia early learning and child care spending;
  5. Outlines the indicators that will be reported on annually according to their planned investments;
  6. Identifies specific targets for each indicator that will be reported on annually for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement;
  7. May identify additional jurisdiction-specific indicators for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement;
  8. Include a description of consultation processes referred to in section 5.1.3, the type of groups consulted and annual priorities related to stakeholder feedback.

5.1.2 The Action Plan may be amended by mutual consent of the Parties with the spirit and intent of this Agreement if deemed necessary by the Province to reflect shifts in approach necessitated by changing circumstances or priorities. Parties must mutually agree that an amended Action Plan will still meet the undertakings set out in the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework. British Columbia will share such amendments with Canada and release any such amendments publicly.

5.1.3 British Columbia will share with Canada the results of any consultations undertaken during the development of its Action Plan. British Columbia recognizes that consultations with parents, child care providers, experts, Indigenous peoples and other interested residents of British Columbia are important for developing and revising its Action Plan.

5.2 Reporting

5.2.1 British Columbia agrees to provide available baseline data on indicators set out in their Action Plan by March 31, 2018.

5.2.2 By no later than October 1 in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, British Columbia agrees to:

  1. Prepare, publish and disseminate to the public an Annual Report in the format and manner decided jointly by Canada and British Columbia. The report shall show separately the results attributable to the funding provided by Canada under this Agreement and shall include:
    1. Brief description of the activities, expenditures and results of the Canada-British Columbia Early Learning and Child Care Agreement as set out in Annex 2;
    2. Results achieved according to the indicators and targets referred to in Annex 2;
    3. As available, the impact on families more in need as described in section 2.2.5;
    4. Results achieved on innovation referred to in Annex 2
    5. Description of any relevant consultation processes, the type of groups consulted and the relation to the priorities referred to in Annex 2; and
    6. Any additional results of evaluation activities undertaken in the Fiscal Year, as available.
  2. Continue to contribute data for the publication of the joint Federal-Provincial/Territorial report on Public Investments in Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada. This shall include the number of children benefiting from subsidies, number of licensed early learning and child care spaces broken down by age of child and type of setting.

5.2.3 By mutual agreement, Canada, with prior notice and the opportunity provided to review and comment, may incorporate all or any part or parts of British Columbia's Annual Report, as described in section 5.2.2.a, into any public report that Canada or British Columbia may prepare for their own purposes, including any reports to Parliament or reports that may be made public.

5.3 Audit

5.3.1 British Columbia will ensure that expenditure information presented in the annual report is, in accordance with provincial standard accounting practices, complete and accurate.

5.3.2 By no later than October 1 of the subsequent Fiscal Year during the Period of this Agreement, British Columbia agrees to provide to Canada an audited financial statement of payments and expenses received from Canada under this Agreement during the preceding Fiscal Year

  1. The revenue section of the statement shall show the amount received from Canada under this Agreement during the Fiscal Year.
  2. The total amount of funding used for early learning and child care programs and services under section 2.2.
  3. The administration costs incurred by British Columbia in developing and administering early learning and child care programs under section 2.2.3
  4. The amount of any amount carried forward by British Columbia under section 4.6, if applicable.
  5. If applicable, the amount of any surplus funds that are to be repaid to Canada under section 4.7.1.

5.3.3 The financial statement shall be prepared in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and the audit shall be performed by the British Columbia Auditor General or his/her delegate, or by an independent public accounting firm registered under the laws of British Columbia and shall be conducted in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Auditing Standards.

5.4 Evaluation

5.4.1 British Columbia is responsible for evaluating its early learning and child care programs. As per established policies and processes with respect to program effectiveness, British Columbia may evaluate programs and services receiving funds provided under this Agreement at the request of Canada and may make public the results of any such evaluations.

6. Long-term collaboration

6.1 Canada and British Columbia agree to share and release data as available, and knowledge, research and information on effective and innovative practices in early learning and child care, to further support the development of and reporting on quality and outcomes. Each party will determine the information they will share.

6.2 Canada and British Columbia agree to work together, and with stakeholders, towards the development of common quality and outcome measures that could be included in bilateral agreements in the future that could reinforce the Framework's long-term vision.

6.3 Canada and British Columbia agree to work together to improve data collection and dissemination on key early learning and child care information for children under age six.

6.4 Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care investments

6.4.1 Canada and British Columbia acknowledge the mutual impact and interactions of the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework being developed and the investments provided under this Agreement.

6.4.2 Canada and British Columbia agree to regular discussions regarding early learning and child care investments related to Indigenous children and families that reside within British Columbia.

7. Communications

7.1 Canada and British Columbia agree on the importance of communicating with the public about the objectives of this Agreement in an open, transparent, effective and proactive manner through appropriate public information activities.

7.2 Canada will receive the appropriate credit and visibility when investments financed through funds granted under this Agreement are announced to the public.

7.3 The Parties agree to give each other 10 days advance notice of intended public communications related to the Framework, bilateral agreements, and results of the investments of this Agreement.

7.4 Canada and British Columbia each reserve the right to conduct public communications, announcements, events, outreach and promotional activities about the Framework and bilateral agreements.

8. Dispute resolution

8.1 Canada and British Columbia are committed to working together and avoiding disputes through government-to-government information exchange, advance notice, early consultation, and discussion, clarification, and resolution of issues, as they arise.

8.2 If at any time either Canada or British Columbia is of the opinion that the other Party has failed to comply with any of its obligations or undertakings under this Agreement or is in breach of any term or condition of the Agreement, Canada or British Columbia, as the case may be, may notify the other party in writing of the failure or breach. Upon such notice, Canada and British Columbia will endeavour to resolve the issue in dispute bilaterally through their Designated Officials.

8.3 If a dispute cannot be resolved by Designated Officials within 90 days, then the dispute will be referred to the Deputy Ministers of Canada and British Columbia most responsible for early learning and child care, and if it cannot be resolved by them, then the respective Ministers of Canada and British Columbia most responsible for early learning and child care shall endeavour to resolve the dispute.

9. Equality of treatment

9.1 During the term of this Agreement, if another province or territory, except the province of Quebec, which is not part of the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, negotiates and enters into an Early Learning and Child Care agreement with Canada, or negotiates and enters into an amendment to such an agreement and if, in the reasonable opinion of British Columbia, any provision of that agreement or amended agreement is more favorable to that province or territory than the terms set forth in this Agreement, Canada agrees to amend this Agreement in order to afford similar treatment to British Columbia, if requested by British Columbia. This includes any provision of the bilateral agreement except for the Financial Provisions set out under section 4.0. This amendment shall be retroactive to the date on which the Early Learning and Child Care agreement or the amendment to such an agreement with the other province or territory, as the case may be, comes into force.

9.2 Canada will make publicly available up-to-date Early Learning and Child Care agreements entered into with all provinces and territories, including any amendments, by posting them on a Government of Canada website

10. Amendments to the agreement

10.1 This Agreement, including all attached annexes, except Annex 1, may be amended at any time by mutual consent of the Parties. To be valid, any amendments shall be in writing and signed, in the case of Canada, by Canada's Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, and in the case of British Columbia, by the provincial Minister most responsible for early learning and child care.

11. Termination

11.1 Either Canada or British Columbia may terminate this Agreement at any time if the terms of this Agreement are not respected by either Party by giving at least 12 months written notice of its intention to terminate.

11.2 As of the effective date of termination of this Agreement under section 11.1, Canada shall have no obligation to make any further payments to British Columbia after the date of effective termination.

11.3 As of the effective date of termination of this Agreement under section 11.1, British Columbia shall have no obligations under this Agreement.

12. Notice

12.1 Any notice, information or document provided for under this Agreement will be effectively given if delivered or sent by letter, postage or other charges prepaid. Any notice that is delivered will have been received in delivery; and, except in periods of postal disruption, any notice mailed will be deemed to have been received eight calendar days after being mailed.

The address for notice or communication to Canada shall be:

140 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Québec  K1A 0J9

The address for notice or communication to British Columbia shall be:

PO BOX 9770 STN PROV GOVT,
Victoria, British Columbia  V8W 9S5

13. General

13.1 This Agreement, including Annexes 1 and 2, comprise the entire agreement entered into by the Parties with respect to the subject matter hereof.

13.2 This Agreement is based on the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, Annex 1, concluded on June 12, 2017.

13.3 This Agreement shall be interpreted according to the laws of Canada and British Columbia.

13.4 No member of the House of Commons or of the Senate of Canada or of the Legislature of British Columbia shall be admitted to any share or part of this Agreement, or to any benefit arising therefrom.

13.5 If for any reason a provision of this Agreement that is not a fundamental term is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be or to have become invalid or unenforceable, in whole or in part, it will be deemed to be severable and will be deleted from this Agreement, but all the other provisions of this Agreement will continue to be valid and enforceable.

13.6 This Agreement is drafted in English at the request of the Parties. Les parties ont convenu que le présent Accord soit rédigé en anglais.

Signed on behalf of Canada by the Minister of Employment and Social Development at Gatineau this 23rd day of February, 2018.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Employment and Social Development

Signed on behalf of British Columbia by the Minister of Children and Family Development at Vancouver this 23rd day of February, 2018.

The Honourable Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development

Annex 1: Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers most responsible for Early Learning and Child Care agreeFootnote 1 on the importance of supporting parents, families and communities in their efforts to ensure the best possible future for their children. For more details on this agreement, please consult the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework.

Annex 2: British Columbia's action plan

The 2016 Federal Budget committed $400M in 2017-18 to support the establishment of the Multilateral Early Learning Child Care (ELCC) Framework with provinces and territories. Additionally, the 2017 Federal Budget committed $7B over 10 years, starting in 2018-2019. A portion of this investment will be dedicated to early learning and child care programs for Indigenous children living on- and off-reserve and is not intended to flow through the provinces/territories.

For the first three year term of funding under the ELCC Framework, British Columbia's (BC's) notionalFootnote 2 allocation is $51 M per year (for 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020).

Early Years and Child Care in British Columbia

In British Colombia, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (CFD) is responsible for child care and early childhood development programs and policies. Child care in BC is legislated under the Child Care BC Act, the Child Care Subsidy Act and Child Care Subsidy Regulation. The CFD supports licensed child care providers with the costs of delivering quality child care programs, provides funding to create new licensed child care spaces, and supports low-income parents with the costs of accessing child care.

Through the Early Childhood Educator (ECE) Registry, CFD is also responsible for the certification of ECEs, the investigation of practice concerns and making decisions on an individual's right to practice, which may result in the cancellation or placement of terms and conditions on an individual's certificate. The ECE Registry maintains the list of recognized post-secondary ECE educational programs, and works with these programs to approve the educational curriculum and programs offered to students.

The Ministry of Health oversees child care licensing and monitoring and sets the minimum health and safety standards that must be met by licensed child care providers pursuant to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act and the Child Care Licensing Regulation. The Ministry of Education supports early learning programs for children aged 0-8 years, including full school-day Kindergarten for five-year-olds and StrongStart BC, which is a no-cost, drop-in, play-based, early learning program facilitated by a certified Early Childhood Educator for children aged birth to five and their parents or caregivers.

Child Care Funding Programs overview:

  • With respect to child care providers, the Child Care Operating Funding Program assists eligible licensed group and family child care providers with the cost of providing child care. The Child Care Major Capital Funding Program supports child care providers to purchase equipment, build, renovate or expand existing child care facilities to create new licensed child care spaces. The Child Care Minor Capital Funding Program helps non-profit child care providers with the cost of repairs and upgrades they need in order to meet licensing requirements and with costs associated with relocation.
  • Support to families is provided through the Child Care Subsidy (CCS), a monthly payment to assist eligible low-income families with the cost of child care, governed under the Child Care Subsidy Act and CCS Regulation. In addition, the Supported Child Development (SCD) and Aboriginal Supported Child Development (ASCD) programs are family-centred, community-based programs that assist families and child care providers to fully include children with extra support needs in typical child care settings.
  • For ECE professionals, in partnership with the Early Childhood Educators of BC, an ECE Bursary Program provides a fund to assist students with the cost of early childhood education programs at approved public and private educational institutions. Since 2014, the BC government has allocated over $3 million in a series of one-time funding grants towards the ECE Bursary Program and as of March 2017, over 1,500 bursaries have been awarded to assist students with the costs of pursuing an education as an ECE. In addition, in 2017, in partnership with the New Relationship Trust Foundation, an Indigenous Early Years Bursary program was established, which includes bursaries for Indigenous students in ECE programs.

Pressures on Early Learning and Child Care in British Columbia:

Availability – Currently there is a notable shortage of licensed child care spaces in BC. In 2016/17, there was a licensed child care space, in receipt of Child Care Operating Funding (CCOF), for only approximately 22 per cent of children aged 0-5 in the province. In 2016, 65 per cent of mothers with children under three years of age were in the labour force, indicating an insufficient supply of quality care to meet the demand. In addition, there is an acute shortage of licensed spaces for infants and toddlers in many parts of the province. A shortage in the supply of qualified ECEs (and in particular Infant/Toddler Educators, exacerbates the availability issue.

Affordability – Child care in BC is also not affordable for many families. In 2016/17, the median monthly child care fees for infants and toddlers (up to 35 months old) in licensed group facilities in receipt of CCOF was over $1,000 across the province. In 2016/17, the median child care fees for children aged 30 months to five years in licensed group facilities across BC was $780 per month.Footnote 3 These high fees place a hardship on many families, especially for those with limited income and resources.

Quality – Research into early childhood education has found that quality child care provided by qualified ECEs can provide positive developmental outcomes for all children, with particular benefits for the most vulnerable.Footnote 4 To support an expansion of quality child care spaces in BC, it is critical to increase the supply of qualified ECEs. Currently, a shortage of certified ECEs has resulted in some centres closing due to a lack of staff. The Child Care Licensing Regulation specifies the minimum numbers of educators that are required to work in licensed child care settings, and without these staff levels, the spaces may not be operational.

Underserved Communities– As more quality, licensed child care spaces are created and operational, it will also be important to address the needs of children and communities who require extra support. In BC, families more in need – where demands for services are particularly high include Indigenous communities, families with children who have special needs, and young parent families. Presently, Indigenous families are more likely than non-Indigenous families to face barriers in accessing child care. Families with children who have special needs face a long waiting list to access assessment, early intervention, and inclusive child care settings. Extra support is critical to maintain specialized programming for young parents completing their secondary education in the province.

This Action Plan aims to assist in responding to these pressures in British Columbia through investing in the priority areas described below.

Official Minority Language Communities in BC

The BC Francophone Affairs Program broadly supports programs and services in both English and French through the Canada – British Columbia Official Languages Agreement on French-Language Services for approximately 70,000 Francophones and 300,000 Francophiles to ensure the French-speaking community has access to information it needs.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development has and will continue to work in partnership with the BC Francophone Affairs Program to review early learning and child care options available to French-speaking families and children. Under this ELCC Agreement with Canada, British Columbia is targeting funding into program areas that could be of benefit to French-language communities. For example, French linguistic communities or groups supporting Francophone programming could apply for new Capital Grants and expanded funding for ECE training. BC will report on access by Francophones to relevant priority initiatives (for example, access to the ECE training grant, access to low-cost prototype spaces).

Francophone early learning and child care programs within BC struggle to recruit and retain French speaking early childhood educators. A collaborative ECE educational program is offered by Collège Éducacentre in partnership with Northern Lights College. Students who attend the ECE program through Collège Éducacentre are eligible for ECE Bursaries.

To support recruitment and retention efforts, the Francophone school district – Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique – has been exploring dual-credit courses with Collège Éducacentre to encourage students to pursue ECE careers by offering courses in high school that will be credited toward later post-secondary studies.

BC will take steps to ensure that the number of francophone educators within the ECE Bursary Program is broadly consistent with the proportion of francophone family/children in the province (1.5%). BC intends to establish baseline data on the number of francophone educators who receive funding from the ECE Bursary Program in 2018 and start reporting on results in 2019.

To further support quality in child care settings, BC will translate the Early Learning Framework (ELF) to French language. ELF provides a foundation for early learning programs in BC.

The creation of accessible affordable child care under the Early Care and Learning Prototype Sites, supported by federal contributions, is well positioned to support child care programs who serve French speaking communities. As new spaces will be created in partnership with public sector organizations/institutions, British Columbia intends to work closely with these organizations and institutions to take into account the diverse and special needs of communities, such as French speaking communities, to help address their specific child care and early learning needs. A specific information session will be held for the Francophone School District to ensure their input is received and that the district is aware of the opportunities under the space creation initiative.

Strategic Directions for Early Years and Child Care in British Columbia

In July 2017, British Columbia committed to implementing a ten-year universal child care plan that provides affordable, accessible and high-quality care and early learning to every child whose family wants or needs it – starting with infant/toddler programs, before gradually expanding.

The BC government is working closely with other governments, child care providers, parents, and communities to strengthen early childhood development, early learning, and child care and to develop an overall implementation plan.

Early Learning and Child Care Engagement Processes in British Columbia:

As well as conducting issue-specific consultations, a Provincial Child Care CouncilFootnote 5 (PCCC) meets approximately three times each year. The PCCC has three working groups that separately address accessibility, quality, and affordability. These regular mechanisms for the exchange of ideas have influenced the development of this Action Plan.

To further inform the planning for a ten-year universal child care system and the implementation of new investments under this agreement, British Columbia has initiated three targeted engagement processes:

  1. Bilateral meetings with stakeholder groups and the Ministry;
  2. On-line consultation for those providers and parents that the Ministry cannot reach directly; and
  3. An in-person forum regarding Early Care and Learning in the province (mid-November 2017).

The goal is to hear from key stakeholders in the child-care and education sectors such as child care advocates, licensed non-profit and for-profit child care providers and administrators, researchers and academics, parents, Early Childhood Educators, Child Care Resource and Referral Centres, school superintendents, ECE post-secondary faculty and representatives from child care licensing.

British Columbia's Priority Areas for Investment:

In response to pressures, engagement processes, and the strategic direction of early learning and child care, BC's main priority areas of investments under this Action Plan are to:

  1. Enhance the accessibility of child care options by increasing the number of spaces;
  2. Increase affordability of child care, beginning with Infant/Toddler care;
  3. Enhance the quality of licensed child care programs by supporting the training and professional development of early childhood educators; and
  4. Enhance equity through targeted investment in underserved communities – Indigenous families, families with children with special needs, and young parents completing their secondary education – improving access to inclusive, affordable, and flexible child care programs.

These new investments made possible by this federal partnership will not displace existing provincial funding. British Columbia will continue its current investments across the continuum of ELCC programs and services. The government of BC is committed to implementing a universal child care system that will provide affordable, accessible and quality child care to every family who wants or needs it, starting with infant/toddler programs. BC's minority government is guided by a Confidence and Supply Agreement between the BC New Democratic Party and the BC Green Party, which commits the parties to "invest in childcare and early childhood education to improve quality, expand spaces, increase affordability and ensure childcare is accessible for all families, with a focus on early childhood education." The initiatives that are proposed to be funded through the ELCC Agreement will tie directly into the BC government's child care plan, and the BC government will expand upon these measures to begin implementing a comprehensive child care system for children and families in this province. This will include additional measures to improve the affordability, accessibility and quality of child care in BC. In the provincial budget, which will be released in February 2018, BC will provide more details about its plans for the implementation of a comprehensive child care plan.

Summary of new ELCC investments (in millions $)
Initiative Targeted improvement 2017/18 Fiscal year 2018/19 2019/20
Early Care and Learning partnerships – Capital Accessibility 13.7 Nil Nil
Early Care and Learning Prototype Sites – Operations Affordability Nil 30 30
ECE training fund Quality 16.3 Nil Nil
Indigenous child care Underserved communities 10 10 10
Children with special needs Underserved communities 10 10 10
Young Parent Programs Underserved communities 1 1 1
Total* 51 51 51

*In order to achieve the intended results of these proposed new investments in early learning and child care, British Columbia will also implement some administrative enhancements and focussed consultations which are expected to account for $800,000 from the total funding envelop in 2017/18 and $290,000 from the total funding envelope in each of the following two years of the agreement.

Priority 1: Accessible Child Care

Early care and learning partnerships: new capital grants to create innovative partnerships with not-for-profit organizations, municipalities to establish new infant/toddler spaces in areas of highest need.

Investment:
Year 1 (2017/18): $13.7 M
Years 2 and 3 (2018/19; 2019/20): $0M

Addressed pressure:
The demand for licensed child care spaces in BC outstrips the existing supply, resulting in significant shortages across the province. The shortage is most critical in terms of spaces for infant/toddlers. In 2016/17, there were on average licensed child care spaces in receipt of Child Care Operating Funding (CCOF) for 22 per cent of all children aged 0 – 5 and a licensed child care space in receipt of CCOF for only six per cent of children aged 0-3 yearsFootnote 6. The distribution of spaces and funding throughout the province is not equitable, leading to significant gaps in some communities. This is particularly acute for Infant/Toddler spaces. Parents across the province report challenges in securing licensed child care when they need it, and as a result many parents either choose to forego employment to look after their children, or are forced to place their children in inadequate settings.

The mechanism:
Given the high unmet need for infant/toddler care in BC, the Province will provide a one-time targeted intake to increase the physical number of licensed infant/toddler child care spaces. The grants will provide capital funding of up to $1M per project and be available to non-profit organizations or municipalities, which would be encouraged to locate child care on or near public sector institutions, such as universities, hospitals, school grounds, or colleges. Recipients of the capital grant may also receive additional operating funding to enable them to offer low-cost child care in BC (see Priority 2).

The capital grants for the infant/toddler programs will be provided on a cost-share basis for the creation of new infant/toddler child care spaces and will leverage other community funding, while contributing approximately 67 per cent of the actual capital costs. Organizations in receipt of the funding will be required to cover the remaining costs of the capital expenditure to create the spaces.

The selection of capital grant recipients will be prioritized for more vulnerable or underserved communities and aim to achieve a balance across urban and rural and different regions of the province. The recipients that will be selected based on a number of factors, such as community need for infant/toddler spaces, operational capacity and organizational experience, staffing plan, cost per space, and readiness (for example, a business plan, bylaw compliance report, quotes for site development/building development and equipment costs).

Capital grants will only be awarded with funding provided in year 1. No additional spaces will be created with funding in either year 2 or 3. Operational funding will be provided for these spaces once they become operational. Each organization that is selected for funding to create spaces through this initiative will receive the full allotment of funding, which will be provided in installments tied to milestones, with the final amount provided once the space is operational. Therefore, while funding in the action plan for this priority is only allocated in year 1, it is possible that some of that funding will be used in years 2 and 3, consistent with the carry forward provisions.

Consultation with the Union of BC Municipalities in 2014/15 indicated strong support for innovative partnership to help create needed spaces. Local and regional public bodies already manage or have the capacity to manage child care centres, or serve large populations where there is a recognized child care need. Such public bodies also understand, and have the ability to address, localized challenges and opportunities, such as rates of growth, seasonal economies/populations, and unique challenges. Partnership is proposed as a way to heighten the local focus on and commitment to the new child care spaces that are so badly needed.

Impacts:
In 2017/18, with an investment of $13.7M, it is estimated that 1,370 licensed Infant/Toddler child care spaces may be created.Footnote 7

Broad access to the new capital grants under the Major Capital Grant Program, as well as partnerships with public sector organizations/institutions, is expected to enable communities with diverse and special needs, including Indigenous communities, minority language and cultural groups including recent immigrants and refugees, and French speaking communities to help address their specific child care and early learning needs.

Indicator of success:
Impact of low-cost infant/toddler care – Capital
Total investment Number of new infant/toddler child care spaces
$13.7 M 1,370

Priority 2: Affordable Child Care

Early Care and Learning Prototype Sites – decrease child care fees through Operational Grants to Child Care Providers beginning with infant/toddler care.

Investment:
Year 1 (2017/18): $0 M
Years 2 and 3 (2018/19; 2019/20): $30 M

Addressed pressure:
Evidence shows that cities in BC have the second highest child care fees in the country, with higher median fees found only in communities in OntarioFootnote 8.

The child care fees are the highest for infants and toddlers (up to age three), reflecting the more intensive care required for younger children. In 2016/17, the median monthly child care fees for infants and toddlers (up to 35 months old) in licensed group facilities in receipt of CCOF was over $1,000 across the province.

Through this prototype, additional funding provided to child care operators would be conditional on their reducing parent fees to specified levels.

The mechanism:
BC will test the introduction of universal child care by providing two years of increased operational support for new Early Care and Learning Prototype Sites, beginning with infant/toddler spaces. Funding to administer low-cost infant/toddler spaces will be provided to both new operators selected through the capital process identified in priority 1, and to existing non-profit child care operators who are willing to provide low-cost infant/toddler spaces under this model, as most of the new infant/toddler spaces funded through priority 1 may not be operational by 2018/19. The operators of these spaces will be provided grants through the Child Care Operating Funding Program or other similar mechanism to enable them to offer families reduced cost child care spaces regardless of income for children under the age of three. The operators that are selected for this funding will be representative across the province in both urban and rural settings so that the prototype centres can test the model in a representative range of communities in BC and will be prioritized for more vulnerable or underserved communities.

All families accessing these spaces would have significantly reduced fees and the most financially vulnerable families will receive the greatest benefit. For example, families earning up to $51K gross per year would have the lowest costs while those earning more than $51K gross per year would be able to access infant/toddler spaces at a significantly reduced cost, paying only approximately 20 per cent of median child care fees for group infant/toddler care in BC. While all families will have access, to ensure equitable access, approximately half of the spaces at each facility will be reserved for families earning up to $51K gross per year.

Impacts:
With an investment of $30M in 2018/19 and 2019/20, it is estimated that families of at least 1,786 children will have access to low-cost child care.Footnote 9 These prototypes will be evaluated after 2019/20, to assess and plan for future expansion of a ten-year universal child care system in BC.

Given that the Child Care Operating Fund is only applied to licensed child care settings that are monitored through the Ministry of Health, there is an incentive for parents to use quality child care. For families, access to child care is simplified by subsidizing care through the operators, as families will not need to apply for child care subsidy to access the no-cost/ reduced-cost spaces.

In combination with new spending targeted to develop infant/toddler spaces through the Capital Grants Program, it is expected that there will be increased access to infant/toddler care in general. This should help to benefit a wide array of communities, including Indigenous communities and minority language and cultural groups to help address their specific child care and early learning needs.

Indicator of success:
Impact of infant/toddler ten-year universal child care pilot
Total investment
(in millions $)
Number of children with reduced costs Number of children accessing no cost child care
60 At least 1786Footnote 10 At least 893Footnote 10

Priority 3: Quality Child Care

Training fund to support recruitment and retention of Early Childhood Educators (ECEs).

Investment:
Year 1 (2017/18): $16.3M
Years 2 and 3 (2018/19; 2019/20): $0M

Addressed pressure:
While high-quality care is defined by a complex mix of factors, research shows that one of the most significant drivers of quality is staff qualification.Footnote 11 British Columbia is facing a workforce shortage of qualified ECEs, especially those educated to work with infants and toddlers, which requires post-basic training. There is also a shortage of ECEs with the basic certification to work with children aged 3-5 and older. As a result, group child care centres providing care to children of all ages are facing challenges in recruiting and retaining sufficient ECEs to meet legislated staffing requirements.

The mechanism:
Under this Agreement, British Columbia will provide one-time funding to support enhanced training grants for ECEs to encourage the certification of more ECEs in general, to promote the post-basic training of ECEs for advanced qualifications, and to support the professional development of ECEs. This funding will be administered over several years to support individuals to become ECEs or to upgrade their ECE training and to enhance the quality of care provided in child care settings.

Whereas earlier contributions by the Province to the ECE Bursary Program have targeted specific subgroups of ECEs, the new contribution to ECE training grants will be broadly accessible to any students taking ECE training. Along with expanding access to educational bursaries, British Columbia will pilot the use of grants to child care operators to be applied towards incidental expenses for staff training, including hiring substitutes while staff takes time-off to attend courses. The enhanced ECE training fund will include opportunities to support students in non-traditional ways, to provide more than the traditional reimbursement of academic fees.

The new ECE training fund will be targeted to support:

ECE Certification

  • Provide bursaries to all students seeking full ECE certification, including ECE Assistants.
  • Provide funding to assist with the cost of accessing Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition resources, in collaboration with educational institutions, where available. This could enable more individuals to receive certification as an ECE in BC who have been trained outside of BC.
  • Provide ECE students grants to assist with travel, child care, books and other expenses that may present barriers to accessing an ECE program.

Flexible staff development

  • Provide grants to child care operators to support staff who wish to upgrade their ECE certification. Funding could be used to: backfill staff and support salaries during periods of training, support travel and other supplementary costs like allowances for child care, or assistance with other potential barriers to accessing education for existing staff.
  • Provide targeted grants to ECEs to participate in approved quality professional development opportunities, including grants to encourage adoption of BC's Early Learning Framework.

New professional development opportunities

  • Grants will be available to institutions to develop and/or offer high-quality professional development training for ECEs, with a focus on meeting an identified gap in available professional development opportunities either across the province or in select communities.

Impacts:
It is expected that these new streams of bursaries and grants will support up to 4,000 current and future educators in obtaining/upgrading their ECE certification.Footnote 12 Because of the increased flexibility, the Province will expect to identify changes in the types of students accessing the program and the types of qualifications obtained.Footnote 13 It is expected that new grants to child care operators will result in more professional development opportunities.

This investment on bursaries and grants has the potential to address needed professionals in specialized settings – for example, for infant/toddler programs, programs for immigrants and refugees, Indigenous child care, children with special needs, or for child care in French linguistic minority communities. Supporting a child care workforce that can meet varied needs and is made up of trained and educated individuals will increase the quality of child care services across the board.

Indicator of success:
Impact of investment in new bursaries and grants
Total investment
(in millions $)
Number of educators accessing staff development Number of current and future ECEs accessing bursaries
16.3 n/k 4,000

BC commits to track and report on the number of current and future educators that receive the new bursaries and grants.

Priority 4: Underserved Communities

Expand culturally-based Indigenous child care.

Investment:
2017/18 to 2019/20: $10M annually

Addressed pressure:
Indigenous children make up nine per cent of the children in BC. While the overall number of Indigenous children is low, these children and their families are more likely than non-Indigenous families to face barriers in accessing child care and are more likely to live in economically vulnerable situations. For example, an Indigenous child is twice as likely to live in a single parent home as a non-Indigenous child and parental income is low. There is also a strong body of evidence showing that Indigenous children are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system and in programs for children and youth with special needs.

The Aboriginal Head Start (AHS) program provides an ideal evidence-based platform for prevention programming. Using culturally relevant curriculum and supports, AHS typically provides wrap around family support services attached to a preschool model where children ages three to five years attend half-day programming.

Despite the demonstrated success of the program and overwhelming stakeholder support, outcomes from existing AHS Programs have been limited by the following challenges:

  • Programs are oversubscribed – there are waitlists for existing programs and there are communities who have gone without Head Start programming but have a demonstrated demand.
  • Programs are underfunded – programming costs have continued to rise yet the amount of funding provided to Head Start programs has remained static for over 10 years. Funding levels for programs on-reserve are reported to be less than half of off-reserve programs.
  • The model does not include infant/toddler care nor full-day programming that would allow a parent to return to work/school. Preschool programming (half day) does not support return-to-work and education goals for parents.

Indigenous communities and stakeholders have called for the expansion of AHS programming, asking that Federal, Provincial and First Nations governments harmonize their investments.

The mechanism:
British Columbia will direct new funds into the existing system that provides Aboriginal Head Start (AHS) programs. The resulting investment will expand current programs to include child care services and create new programs using the AHS model to provide new services for communities more in need.

There are 122 on-reserve AHS programs federally funded through the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA). There are 12 urban AHS programs federally funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). PHAC also funds the Aboriginal Head Start Association of BC (AHSABC) – an incorporated non-profit society which provides oversight and quality assurance.

Under provincial leadership, additional funding for AHS will enhance on-reserve AHS programs to implement full-day care in some communities and target the creation of 13 new urban AHS programs that will include full-day care and some infant/toddler care. These enhancements are well supported in preliminary discussions between the government bodies involved (MCFD, FNHA and PHAC) and the AHSABC.

Three and a half million dollars, annually, will be provided to the FNHA to expand existing on-reserve AHS programs. Funding will be directed to communities most in need, based on population and current resources.

Six and a half million dollars, annually, will be directed to the AHSABC to create and operate 13 new urban AHS programs in select communities, not on reserves.

Contract agreements between MCFD, AHSABC, and FNHA will clarify the roles and responsibilities of government partners. As well as coordinating funds available through each government body, the purpose of the agreements is to minimize risk of duplication, reduce administrative anomalies and reduce the reporting burden for community.

This new direction aligns with messaging obtained from the First Nations Health Caucus in BC, responds to BC Grand Chief Ed John's recommendations to expand prevention investments for Indigenous families, and generally supports the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action for better coordination, respect for community drivers and increased prevention programming.

Impacts:
Preliminary estimates suggest that approximately 590 families will benefit from new child care spaces created through enhancements to culturally based Indigenous child care by 2019/20.

It is estimated that within three years, 13 new urban off-reserve AHS programs will be providing culturally based and inclusive child care and wrap around services for the families of approximately 390 children (each new urban AHS will provide care for 30 children – eight infant/toddler spaces and 22 group spaces for children aged three to five years).

Additionally, through enhancements to on-reserve programs, it is expected that up to 200 child care spaces will be created.

Indicator of success:
  Number of new programs Number of new spaces Investment*
Total off-reserve 13 390 $19.5 M
On-reserve N/A 200 $10.5 M

*approximately 7% of funding will be used for administrative costs associated with implementation, including support for developing the MOU.

Priority 4: Underserved Communities

Enhance Supported Child Development Programs for children with special needs.

Investment:
2017/18 to 2019/20: $10M annually

Addressed pressure:
For children with special needs and their families, extra support is often required to enable them to access beneficial programs and services at an early age. Without timely and appropriate supports, some children with special needs may have their potential for full development impacted. For their parents, access to inclusive alternative care options provides the extra support needed to allow them more active community involvement, to work and/or study.

The Supported Child Development Programs (SCD) and the Aboriginal Child Development Programs (ASCD) are foundational programs that provide direct support and interventions to young children who have or are at high risk of a developmental delay or disability and their families. In BC, the current investment in these programs has not met the demand.
Currently there is a long list of children waiting to access inclusive child care settings.

As of March 31, 2016, 1,840 children were waiting for inclusive child care:

  • 741 children were waiting to access supported child development programs at all
  • 1,099 children have accessed consultant services through supported child development programs, but are waiting for extra support to enable them to participate in a child care setting.

The mechanism:
The funding for Supported Child Development Programs (SCD) and the Aboriginal Child Development Programs (ASCD) will be enhanced to assist more children with special needs and their families to meet their extra support needs and enable them to access child care services.Footnote 14

Although the current programs are not limited to children under the age of six, it is estimated that almost 70 per cent of the current program resources are utilized to support these younger children. Considering the foundational role of the supported child development programs, support to children under the age of six in child care settings is prioritized. (School-aged children have access to other supports through the education system.)

Communities with diverse and special needs including Indigenous communities, minority language and cultural groups, and French speaking communities are able to benefit from these specialized supports to access inclusive child care settings as needed. Additionally, ASCD services are delivered within a cultural model, respecting traditional protocol, language and traditions.Footnote 15

Impacts:
At an average cost of $7,000/child a $10M investment could create access for 1,428 childrenFootnote 16 . With the enhanced funding added to the existing provincial funding, it is anticipated that the current waitlist for SCD/ASCD would be eliminated during the three years of this agreement.Footnote 17

In 2015/16, the Service Indicator Reporting Framework dataFootnote 18 identified an estimated average monthly caseload of 6,817 children and their families for SCD/ASCD programs, at any given point in time. Because caseload numbers do not reflect service levels – for instance there are 1099 children waiting for increased services in the current waitlists – an increase in funding is most likely to be reflected in an increased number of hours of individual intervention and the number of hours of group intervention. It is expected that there will be a substantial increase in the number of children benefitting by more interventions.

Indicator of success:
Impact of enhanced funding for Supported Child Development Programs for children with special needs*
Current funding $60 M 5,850 TBD 3,900*
New investment $10 M 1,428* TBD 950*
Total $70 M 7,278 TBD 4,850*

*Estimates.

British Columbia will continue to work to enhance the available data to provide a clear baseline regarding service hours and further reporting on the new investment made in the Supported Child Development Programs, particularly to identify the benefits to Indigenous children. Although a separation by age group is not made at the program level, notionally, the number of new children funded under this Agreement (1,428) could be considered to be a portion of those under the age of six (5,496).

Priority 4: Underserved Communities

Enhance funding for Young Parent Programs.

Investment:
2017/18 to 2019/20: $1M annually

Addressed pressure:
Young parents who are completing their secondary education face significant challenges to meet the needs of their children and Young Parent Programs (YPPs) deliver an established model for effectively providing service to this vulnerable population. YPPs provide child care located at or near secondary schools and support young parents who are completing their secondary educationFootnote 19 . Just over half of the YPP child care programs operate as infant/toddler centres and the rest focus on children aged 3-5.Footnote 20

Consultations have raised serious concerns about the sustainability of YPPs under current funding levels. YPPs already benefit from an augmentation to the Child Subsidy Program. When a program is designated as a YPP, their clients receive $1,000/month subsidy per child, which is currently $250/month higher than the maximum child care subsidy rate for infants/toddlers in group settings. The subsidy rate provided for YPP clients has not increased since 2011 and, as evidenced by program closures and credible reports of viability issues, has not kept pace with the costs of providing services to this vulnerable population.

The mechanism:
New funding under this Agreement will be directed to YPPs through a further targeted enhancement to the Child Care Subsidy Program. The YPP enhancement will increase the subsidy rate for YPP clients from $1,000 to $1,500 per month and will be provided for enrolled children on a monthly basis rather than being pro-rated for attendance.

Impacts:
Increasing funding for YPPs will help to preserve existing programs and may allow more YPPs to open or re-open. The number of YPP spaces has been decreasing over the past years, and this funding will enable current spaces to remain operational and ensure supports for vulnerable young parents and their children remain in place. Based on previous enrollments in YPPs, it is anticipated that this new investment will enable approximately 220 young-parent families and their children to continue to be supported. Between September 2015 and August 2016, 219 young parent families with a total of 249 children were supported by YPPs. The additional investment of $1 million annually will increase funding by 63%.

Indicator of success:
Annual funding Percentage* of total funding Number of children served – Point in time
Current funding $1.6 M 61 182
New investment $1 M 39 (182)
Total $2.6 M 100 182

*The percentage of families and children served by the increase in funding is notional as the funding can be argued to be saving the existing program for all children and families that access it.

Innovation and knowledge

Innovation:
Innovation is vital to achieving BC's commitment to implementing a ten-year universal child care plan. BC leadership has committed to making life more affordable, delivering services that people count on, and doing so in a sustainable and innovative way. This Action Plan lays out several new ways of doing things in response to these commitments.

Summary of innovative measures
Initiative Innovation
Early Care and Learning infant/toddler Partnership Sites – New capital grants New partnerships – A new emphasis on partnership with public-sector organizations should help to ensure that investments are used as effectively as possible. Because local organizations will be involved in space creation, the types of spaces created will be more aligned with community needs.
Early Care and Learning Prototype Sites – Infant/toddler operational funding Targeted operational grants – For the first time in BC, operators would receive grants enabling them to offer families significantly reduced-cost child care spaces for children under the age of three. Families earning up to $51K gross per year will receive the greatest benefits to access infant/toddler care, while families earning more than $51K gross per year could access infant/toddler spaces at approximately 20 percent of current costs.
ECE training fund Increased flexibility – Allowing professionals and employers to determine how best to use funding that will encourage and allow for increased training and qualification of the Early Childhood Educators is urgently needed to support growth in the sector.
Indigenous child care New funding arrangements – Attempting to better coordinate services provided within Indigenous communities by flowing funds available to the Province through an existing platform identified to be Federal. The investment exemplifies planning that is community driven and co-developed with several partners.

Knowledge:
Under the terms of the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, British Columbia has committed to continue to work with Canada and the other Provinces and Territories to contribute to research and the general understanding of what works for providing quality, affordable, accessible and inclusive early learning and child care in Canada.

The Province is committed to accounting for the new funding provided by Canada and to report on the success of the new initiatives and enhancements to current programs and services.

Summary of three year investments
Priority Initiative Investment
Enhance availability of child care options by increasing the number of spaces Early Care and Learning Partnerships – Capital $13.7 million
Expected impacts:
Approximately 1,400 new spaces for infants/toddlers will be created (100 in each of 14 communities).
Increase affordability,
beginning with infant/toddler care by subsidizing the ongoing operational costs of the new spaces
Early Care and Learning Prototype Sites – Operations $60 million
Expected impacts:
The approximately 1,786 new infant/toddler spaces created will operate for two years with significantly reduced parent fees.
Enhance quality child care by supporting the training and professiona development of ECEs Early Childhood Educator (ECE) training fund $16.5 million
Expected impacts:
Through the uptake of new bursaries and grants, more providers will have ECE certification and/or participate in professional development. It is expected that 4,000 current and future educators will benefit from new bursaries.
Improve the access to inclusive, affordable and flexible child care programs to some underserved communities with targeted program supports Indigenous child care $30 million
Expected impacts:
By expanding the existing system that provides Aboriginal Head Start Programs, approximately 590 Indigenous families will benefit from new child care spaces. (13 new urban sites with 390 spaces; 200 new spaces on-reserve).
Children with special needs $30 million
Expected impacts:
Current wait lists for supported child development programs will be eliminated and approximately 1,428 more children with special needs will be able to access early learning and child care programs.
Young Parent Programs $3 million
Expected impacts:
By enhancing the funding available for families who use young parents programs, approximately 250 specialized child care spaces will be secured.

The following indicators and targets will be utilized to track and report on results:

Details of expected results:  Indicators and targets
Initiative Indicator Targets (by March 31, 2020) Annual report
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Early Care and Learning Partnerships – Capital New child care spaces 1,370 child care spaces Yes Yes Yes
Early Care and Learning Prototype Sites – Operations Number of children benefiting from affordable infant/toddler child care spaces, including a number of children from underserved communities (Indigenous families, families with children with special needs, and young parents completing their secondary education) 1,786 children No Yes Yes
Early Childhood Educator (ECE) training fund Number of ECEs accessing training, including educators from underserved communities (Indigenous families, families with children with special needs, and young parents completing their secondary education, BC will establish baseline data on the number of francophone educators who receive funding from the ECE Bursary Program in 2018 and start reporting on results in 2019) 4,000 ECEs Yes Yes Yes
Indigenous child care Number of child care spaces providing culturally based Indigenous services, including number of spaces on and off reserve 590 child care spaces Yes Yes Yes
Children with special needs Number of children with special needs who will access supported child development programs 1,428 children Yes Yes Yes
Young Parent Programs Number of children benefiting from Young Parent Programs, including the number of children under six years of age 249 children Yes Yes Yes

In addition reporting on the key indicators noted above, British Columbia will report on other indicators as available. During the first year of investment, the Province will begin to improve data and information systems and will be able to determine the breadth of reporting that is possible.

At this early stage, it is opportune for the Province to consider what is needed to establish robust administration, accountability and reporting systems in tandem with program development. To affect new priorities, it will be necessary to build and administer program enhancements. British Columbia also plans to increase the capacity of the BC public reporting portal and the BC Integrated Case Management System, which has been designed to improve information sharing among government agencies that support British Columbians requiring social services and assistance.

The new investments that are summarized in this Action Plan are intended to provide immediate relief for some pressing issues for the delivery of child care and early learning in British Columbia. They are interim steps towards a 10-year goal of moving towards a universal child care system.

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