The provincial minister of state for child care says the recent re-announcement of new child care spaces in Sidney is meant to be celebratory.
“We definitely highlight it as one of the projects that we have been funding,” said Katrina Chen in an interview with Peninsula News Review, when asked about why the provincial government has re-announced 74 child care spaces offered through Lulu’s Kids Corporation, with 50 spaces going towards children aged three to school-aged and 24 spaces going towards infants and toddlers.
“[That last category] is the most difficult type of child care to create and also I would say the highest need across the province, and in Sidney as well,” she said. “So we are very excited about that project.”
Lulu’s Kids Corporation opened its doors in November 2019.
She also added that the provincial government wanted to celebrate the milestone of creating more than 10,000 spaces in just over a year at a pace about 10 times faster than in the past. (The actual number, according to a government release, is 10,400 spaces over 15 months).
“Even in the past few months, we have been creating and funding new spaces,” she said.
Chen said earlier that the funding for the spaces through the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund launched in July 2018 is “somewhat new” in having created some 90 new, affordable licensed child care spaces in Sidney as part of the government’s plan to create a universal child care system in British Columbia.
Chen had said earlier in the government’s release that the new spaces will give “Sidney parents the option to go back to work or school and give children a safe place to learn, grow and socialize in their most formative years” in claiming that the Childcare BC plan has helped Sidney parents save more than $818,000 through the affordable child care benefit and child care fee education initiative. The province also says that early childhood educators in the Sidney region are more than $26,000 after the province has invested more than $13 million to provide more than 10,000 early childhood educators with a $1-per-hour wage hike.
Mary Sutherland, Lulu’s director, said in the release that early childhood education is such an important period of time, and the provision of what she called “progressive, inclusive, and for-childhood programming” adds much to the future of local communities.
Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen said in the release that families across the province need access to quality, affordable child care and early childhood education. “We recognize that investing in child care supports working families and is critical in setting up our children for success.”
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