Two Courtenay facilities will become $10 a Day ChildCareBC sites with fees capped at $200 a month per child, the provincial government announced Thursday.
The sites are under the umbrella of the Today ‘n’ Tomorrow Learning Society, located next to Vanier Secondary, where 43 childcare spaces will offer dramatically reduced fees for parents. The Little Friends Early Learning Centre is for three- to five-year-olds (19 spaces), and the Teddies ’n Toddlers Childcare Centre cares for those up to three years (24 spaces).
“It’s a huge savings,” said Natalie Robinson, executive director at Today ‘n’ Tomorrow. Previously, she said a full-time toddler fee would have been about $836 a month, or nearly $10,000 a year. As of March 1, parents pay no more than $1,200 a year. “That’s a lot of money in a year. Those are your mortgage payments, if you can afford to buy a home.”
The society also runs a Young Parent Program.
In September, Today ‘n’ Tomorrow hopes to be operating a new childcare facility with 20 spaces at Lake Trail Middle School.
“We’re hoping that we can also offer the $10 a Day program to those families, but that will depend on ministry guidelines,” Robinson said.
She would like to see a bigger investment in early childhood educators to help deal with staffing issues, namely wages and the recruitment/retention of ECE teachers.
“You can have all the spaces, but there’s no one to operate them. We’re working really hard to get to 80 per cent capacity in our one facility. Children now, with COVID, we’re seeing behaviours we’ve never seen before, so we need even more teachers to run the programs. Childcare has changed a lot.” The society has a growing waitlist with more than 300 people.
“I think our community needs to recognize that this is an essential service, and we’re struggling,” Robinson said.
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