The province says 1,000 B.C. children will have “better access to inclusive child care” as part of a three-year, $30-million investment.
It’s part of an Early Learning and Child Care agreement with the federal government, signed in February 2018.
The province says the new funding will expand and “enhance” access to child care by way of Supported Child Development (SCD) and Aboriginal Supported Child Development (ASCD) programming.
“Extra support is often required to enable children with special needs and their families to access beneficial programs and services at an early age,” said Randeep Sarai, MP for Surrey Centre, who attended a media event Friday morning at Surrey’s Centre for Child Development.
“This is why the government of Canada, in partnership with the province, has made investments in child care a priority. Today’s announcement supports more inclusive early learning and child care that will allow more children in British Columbia to reach their full potential,” Sarai added.
To date, 83 organizations across the province have received part of the $30 million.
Surrey organizations that have been recipients include Reach Child & Youth Development Society and the Centre for Child Development.
Gerard Bremault, CEO of Centre for Child Development, said many child care programs have struggled to offer support to include children with special needs because they don’t have the specialized capacity to do so.
“This additional investment from the government of Canada and province of B.C. significantly improves that capacity and really makes a difference for our families and so many around the province,” said Bremault. “The centre is B.C.’s largest child development centre, serving more than 3,100 children with special needs and their families throughout the South Fraser region.”
A provincial government released noted SCD can include one-on-one help for children who may need assistance during meals or to take part in activities with peers; information and training for child care staff to help them make their programming more inclusive, such as creating a visual schedule to help a child better understand their daily routine, or allowing a child to begin their day earlier to be better oriented before the day begins; and working with families to link them to other local resources and support groups in the community, or to help them access medical and other needed services.
ASCD programs, meantime, offer SCD services “within a cultural model so that Indigenous children with extra support needs can be included meaningfully in child care programs, both on and off reserve, while also learning about their heritage and culture,” a release states.
“For too long, families with extra support needs have been ignored, and we’re working to fix that,” said Katrina Chen, B.C.’s Minister of State for Child Care. “We will test new funding models for supported child development programs as we work towards our long-term goal of a fully inclusive system under Childcare BC.”
The province says it is investing more than $1 billion in child care over the next three years through Childcare BC, “to move towards its long-term vision of a universal child care system in B.C.”