The City of Prince Rupert has announced the completion of its Child Care Assessment and Action Plan, after months of public consultation and research.
Highlights of the plan acknowledge the local need for 49 more licensed child care spaces to meet current demand and recognized gaps in areas such as available programming, affordability benefits for caregivers and barriers to the availability of trained early childhood educators.
The plan also noted a lack of child care ‘hubs’, where care is located within schools, family service organizations, recreation programming or multi-family housing. As well, it noted gaps in child care provision with centre based infant to toddler care, and flexible programs that cater to the high number of shift workers in the community.
The intent of the plan is to inform the Province and local stakeholders about child care needs specific to the the local area while proposing steps that will support the development of new child care spaces.
“This plan offers tangible ways for the City to contribute to improved child care for Prince Rupert, so that we can attract and retain young families,” Lee Brain, mayor said.
“It identifies how many and what kinds of spaces are needed in the community, and sets the stage so that we can advocate for increased funding to our area.”
Local service providers will require the plan, as a pre-requisite, to qualify for the ‘Child Care BC New Spaces Fund’ offered through the Province, the City said in a press release. The program now offers up to 100 per cent funding for the development of child care facilities by private, public and non-profit sectors.
“Having a clear understanding of specific local needs will assist the Province in allocating funding,” the City said.
On a go forward basis the City will consider the plan through the year and has already developed a draft guide as resource for local parents and child care providers. The guide is intended to address the local awareness gaps, as well as inform parents and caregivers of what resources are available to them.
“The City will be seeking to facilitate a session with parties interested in developing child care spaces in the community to bring awareness to the Plan, as well as available funding through the Province,” the press release said.
The Plan was made possible through $25,000 in grant funding provided by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) and was prepared by the City’s contracted consultant, Watson Projects.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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