Rita Chudnovsky: Plan for $10-a-day childcare striking a chord in B.C.

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      More than 30 years ago, the women’s movement put childcare on the public agenda. And while there have been important successes along the way, it can get depressing for grandmothers like me to see so little political progress. Parent fees are too high, staff wages are too low, there are nowhere near enough spaces and public funding is almost non-existent.

      But the good news is that there’s a solution.

      The Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. and the Early Childhood Educators of B.C. have a plan to solve B.C.’s child-care crisis that’s been striking a chord: the 2011 Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning. Who’s on board so far? Support has come from the City of Vancouver and a dozen other municipalities; the Vancouver, Burnaby, Campbell River, Cowichan Valley, Kootenay Columbia, and Gulf Islands school boards; the Surrey Board of Trade; the Vancouver and District Labour Council, BCGEU, CUPE B.C., and B.C. Teachers’ Federation; a growing list of academics and businesses; and too many parents to count.

      In my decades of child-care advocacy, I have never seen this level of enthusiasm or support for progressive child-care policy. What’s got everyone so excited? For starters, the promise of $10-a-day childcare. Under the Plan, new public dollars will go to child-care programs to cap parent fees at $10 per day for full-time care and $7 per day for part-time care and make it free for families who make less than $40,000 a year. Families could save up to $10,000 a year and many could move out of poverty. Funding would also increase child-care workers’ wages to an average of $25 an hour plus benefits. With increased educational opportunities, early childhood educators would finally earn the income and respect they deserve.

      But, the Plan is about more than money. It’s about rights. By signing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention to Eliminate Discrimination against Women, Canada and B.C. promised to honour children’s and women’s right to childcare. The Plan calls on B.C. to finally enshrine this right in a new B.C. Early Care and Learning Act.

      The Plan moves childcare from the current patchwork to a democratically governed public system. Following international trends, it integrates childcare into our education system in a way that builds on the strengths of both our public school system and quality, community-based childcare. The Plan extends the universality, public funding and democratic governance of the public school system to services for children under the age of five on a voluntary basis. And it strengthens play-based, experiential, nurturing programs that are staffed by qualified early childhood educators.

      The Plan welcomes existing providers into the new system and makes school boards responsible for creating new services that their communities need. It also ensures they have the funds to get the job done.

      The Plan is not about standardized curriculum or academic achievement for young children. Children will still start school at age five but their early care and learning programs will be strong and equal partners with the K-12 system. Childcare will be an expected and accepted part of neighbourhoods, and, with time, may well be a positive influence on all levels of the education system.

      Support for the Plan grows daily. Find out more on the Plan website.

      Rita Chudnovsky is a research associate with the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

      Comments

      17 Comments

      jonnny

      Oct 11, 2012 at 2:07pm

      I absolutely do NOT condone using tax dollars to pay for someones daycare!!!

      Make daycare expenses a deductible expense, but it should NOT be paid for by the government except for people in poverty.

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      Birdy

      Oct 11, 2012 at 3:22pm

      Brilliant... raise the parents taxes, tell them it's for "free" childcare, ban independent providers, then give the cash to school board bureaucrats. What a great solution. Someone give this lady a medal and a cup of $17 orange juice.

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      Sharon Gregson

      Oct 11, 2012 at 4:32pm

      Great idea guys - how about we all stop paying any taxes at all...you'd love that until you have a heart attack and need to get some expensive health care - or you have grandchildren and your kids ask you to quit work and care for their children because they can't find or afford daycare. Sorry to tell you but even the United Nations just slammed Canada for being a wealthy country that ignores the need for public investment into the care and well-being of young children.

      Wake up and smell the coffee - this is 2012 - mothers work and children deserve access to quality child care - working parents pay taxes which benefits us all.

      NoLeftNutter

      Oct 11, 2012 at 5:02pm

      What a load of crap. Of course support for this idea is "growing". There will always be someone that wants something for nothing. The question is - why should the rest of us pay for it?

      okrdregs

      Oct 11, 2012 at 5:06pm

      Some things are best paid for collectively through our taxes: healthcare, childcare, retirement. The economic & social rewards far outweigh the costs. For childcare, the economic benefit is at least $6 for every $1 invested in the system.

      For those who moan, I don't want to pay for your kids, give your head a shake. Early childhood is where 80% of learning happens. Get that right, and you prevent lots of societal problems later on... and avoid lots of costs too.

      Sharon Gregson

      Oct 11, 2012 at 5:22pm

      For those who are so concerned about paying for someone else - you should know that the Quebec child care system pays for itself because more mothers can go to work and pay taxes on their paycheques and are spending more $ in the local economies. This notion of something for nothing is absurd - as a working mother I pay taxes and I expect services. The same way you pay taxes and expect bridges to drive over, hospitals to visit and libraries and swimming pools, etc...

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      Jabberwock

      Oct 11, 2012 at 8:19pm

      Why should we pay for it? Because we need kids- kids to create a tax base to support you in your old age, maintain the roads to drive you to right-wing nutbar meetings, etc. And we need women at work, to create jobs, to fill jobs and yes, to pay those taxes to support all the government subsidies and programs that benefit YOU. It is about living a civil society. We don't get to limit how our tax dollars to support only those things we feel benefit us. I am healthy and don't drive. I don't resent the tax dollars spent to support our public health system and transportation network. Are you too unsophisticated to realize that women at work with healthy, well cared for children are a net benefit to society, the economy, and your future well being?

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      Hardy

      Oct 11, 2012 at 10:04pm

      Parents should be encouraged to raise their own children. With government (TAXPAYERS) responsible, the kids are just going to turn out funny.

      What can $10 buy these days?

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      Natty

      Oct 12, 2012 at 7:15am

      I was intrigued until that "tax-payer subsidized" bit. Children are a lifestyle choice these days, so why should childless people support your munchkins from birth all the way to age 18?

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      Sharon Gregson

      Oct 12, 2012 at 9:33am

      You say "children are a lifestyle choice".... are you serious?

      Parents who use child care are still raising their own kids - quality child care is an extension of the family - not a replacement for it.

      Tell me why it is you agree that our tax dollars can be used in the K-12 public education system but not for public investment in the care and education of younger children? What magically happens at age 5 that we have public responsibility for children but prior to that it's every mother for herself....

      When a working mother pays taxes why should she also have to pay $1915 a month for child care services?

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