Parents in 21 more B.C. school districts will have a chance to enrol their kindergarten-aged children in before and after-school care in the same classroom starting in 2022.
B.C.’s “seamless day kindergarten” pilot program is up and running in four schools and has been popular with parents because their children are in a secure and familiar place all day, Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said Monday. With B.C. the first province to take part in a national child care plan, a new social program is taking shape, she said Oct. 18 at a Nikomekl Elementary in Langley, one of the schools joining the pilot program.
School districts joining the pilot program are Arrow Lakes, Central Okanagan, Chilliwack, Gulf Islands, Gold Trail, Haida Gwaii, Kamloops-Thompson, Langley, Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Nechako Lakes, New Westminster, North Okanagan-Shuswap, Peace River North, Sea to Sky, Sooke, Vancouver, Vernon, the Society of Christian Schools B.C. and Conseil scolaire francophone.
The pilot project started in four schools, Oliver Elementary, West Sechelt Elementary, Errington Elementary in Qualicum and Hollyburn Elementary in West Vancouver.
Low-cost child care has been a cornerstone of Premier John Horgan’s NDP government since 2017, but progress has depended mainly on federal support. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government signed a series of child care agreements with provinces before the September election, including B.C.
“It is long overdue, because parents have been waiting for a long time, but we are making progress,” said Katrina Chen, B.C.’s minister of state for child care. B.C. has added 26,000 child care spaces and funded a $4-per-hour wage increase for early childhood educators to attract more people into training and jobs, Chen said.