The city of Prince Rupert was noticeably absent from a list of locations and municipalities to receive provincial funding for new childcare spaces which the Ministry of Children and Family Development issued in a press release late last month.
The province is creating 3,634 new licensed childcare spaces for B.C. families across the province under the BC New Spaces Fund, an application-based program, MCFD said.
The 35 locations set to receive funding from the BC New Spaces Fund included the DANU Child Care Centre in Haida Gwaii and the yet to be constructed Lax Kw’alaams daycare centre.
Prince Rupert is in dire need of more child care spaces, Sherry Beal executive director of North Coast Community Services said, however not one child care centre that she is aware of in Prince Rupert applied for the BC New Spaces funding.
According to the City of Prince Rupert Childcare Action plan of February 2020, the city requires an additional 49 licensed childcare spaces to meet current local demand and achieve a 25 per cent access rate for children up to 12 years old.
“The City is currently exploring the action items suggested to us in our Child Care Needs Assessment and Action Plan, which was completed in the spring and is a prerequisite for communities to complete prior to applying to this funding,” Veronika Stewart, communications manager for the City of Prince Rupert said in an email to The Northern View.
“Funding has to be applied for and each applicant has different criteria to meet. It’s quite a daunting process,” Beal said as to possibly why Prince Rupert was not included in the latest funding round. “There is a distinct shortage of spaces for infants, toddlers, and children with special needs.”
Under the New Spaces Funding public-sector organizations and Indigenous governments can receive as much as $3 million covering up to the entire project cost, MCFD said in the media release.
As well, Indigenous non-profit societies may receive up to $1.5 million for up to 100 per cent of their project costs. Non-profit societies, including non-profit child care providers and child development centres are eligible to receive up to 90 per cent of costs to as much as $1.5 million. Childcare providers that are businesses or corporations are entitled to as much as $250,000 for up to three-quarters of total project costs.
Stephen Conway, chief administrator of the Lax Kw’alaams Band who received funding in this round, said the paperwork was quite a lot and it is a correct assessment to say the process was ‘daunting’. To assist with the process, he said they used two different third parties to assist them in securing the $2.4 million they were allotted.
“It should be noted that with the needs assessment complete, funding is also open to non-profits and school districts as well as municipalities. Given the need, we also encourage other interested parties in the community to apply,” Stewart said.
Beal said that while it’s easy to say non-profits should apply, commitment funds of 10 percent have to be on hand to gain funding approval. For $1.5 million in funding to be approved that equates to $150,000 in commitment funds, which is a lot of fundraising effort for a non-profit, Beal said.
Beal said that NCCS is in the midst of the process of applying for the funding and development procedures for the centre. It is a two to three-year project that doesn’t happen overnight, she said.
“It is part of the initiative that we are engaging in right now. We felt if we have the child development centre and the 24/7 child care centre in the same facility, then it would more affordable.”
“It is disappointing that no-one in Prince Rupert received funding, I am so pleased that the other communities received it, because there are shortages all over,” Beal said.
Beal said there is another round of funding which is open until Nov. 1, from which recipients may be announced in January 2021.
“It’s all down to timing and having the initial commitment funds in place, as well as having the land,” Beal said.
The Province has announced 16,800 new licensed spaces since July 2020, MCFD said, and the BC New Spaces Funding is available per project.