Charlene Gray will join the Provincial Child Care Council, an advisory group for the B.C. government. File photo.

Comox Valley childcare specialist named to provincial advisory council

A childcare expert from the Comox Valley has been appointed to the province’s highest advisory council for that field.

Early Childhood Educators of British Columbia president and longtime Comox Valley resident Charlene Gray was named to the Provincial Child Care Council (PCCC) on Oct. 10. The council provides advice to the Minister of State for Child Care and the Ministry of Children and Family Development on how to introduce universal childcare in B.C.

Gray said she is excited to sit on the council alongside many of the province’s other childcare experts.

“I’ve been an early childhood educator for nearly 30 years and to be able to listen and learn from people around the province and sit at a table at this level, it’s really exciting,” said Gray.

“It’s an exciting time for our field and a good time for us to be involved, listening and aware of what’s going on.”

Alongside her role as president for the Early Childhood Educators of BC, Gray is the senior manager of the Comox Valley Children’s Day Care Society. She’s been with the organization for 17 years.

“I’ve seen lots of changes in the Valley and lots of need for childcare. It’s a growing concern,” she said.

Childcare was a central issue in B.C.’s recent election. The governing NDP’s platform promises to introduce $10-a-day, full-time childcare, and $7-a-day, part-time childcare for families earning less than $40,000 per year.

The Green Party — which has a power-sharing agreement with the NDP — platformed on introducing free childcare for parents of children under three and free early childhood education (preschool) of up to 25 hours for three- and four-year-olds.

Gray said even though the two party leaders espoused different approaches throughout the election campaign, the NDP and Green Party have more in common than not when it comes to childcare policy.

“If you look at both mandates, I think the ideas are pretty similar — wanting to have access for children and make it affordable for families,” she said. “I think both parties are looking at those kinds of issues. There are more similarities and I think the NDP has said that publicly, too.”

Gray said childcare is a universal issue even for those who do not have children.

“From the person who serves you coffee at Tim Hortons to the nurse at your clinic, if they don’t have childcare, they can’t provide their service,” she said.

“I think it’s an all-around issue.”

The PCCC typically meets three or four times per year.

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