Duncan’s Parkside Academy chosen for universal day-care pilot project

One of first to offer $10-per-day child care

Kelly Hall and Xituluq Hwitsum are delighted that Parkside Academy’s Somenos School site, a not-for-profit child-care centre in Duncan, has been chosen as a Universal Child Care Prototype Site.

As a result, the couple, parents of a two-year-old son named Chase, said their monthly daycare fees have been dramatically reduced, from paying a rate of $925 to just $200 per month.

Chase has been attending Parkside Academy since he was six months old and his parents are proud to say that the daycare has provided a quality learning environment for him since he was first enrolled.

“Parkside has been able to give us piece of mind while being away from him throughout the day so that we can attend work,” they said in a press release.

“As parents, having our monthly fees dramatically reduced has been an incredible incentive which has enabled us to be able to afford quality child care for Chase to receive the best possible start (in life).”

Providing $10-per-day child-care spaces across the province had been one of the NDP government’s major election promises.

RELATED STORY: B.C. STARTING UNIVERSAL DAYCARE PILOT PROGRAM

The prototype plan to make it a reality was announced in November and includes spaces for about 2,500 children at 53 child-care facilities, including Parkside Academy, in both rural and urban areas around the province.

All were expected to be in operation by Dec. 1, and cost parents and guardians a maximum of $200 a month per child.

And if families are able to access the Affordable Childcare Benefit program, they can receive free childcare services.

RELATED STORY: PARENTS CAN NOW APPLY FOR B.C.’S CHILD CARE BENEFIT

“This project takes a major step towards universal child care in British Columbia,” said B.C.’s Minister of Children and Family Development, Katrine Conroy, in a statement.

To balance operational costs, the facilities will receive funding from the government, which has allocated $60 million for the project.

The chosen sites will operate until March 31, 2020, and are required to provide the government with feedback on the program to prepare for an eventual province-wide rollout.

Founded in 2005, Parkside Academy is the only not-for-profit group child care centre in North Cowichan, providing daycare services to more than 100 children up to 12 years of age.

Sue Plester, president of the Parkside Academy Society, said she is excited by the opportunity for the organization to continue to demonstrate leadership in the community, and to inform government on what works, what needs improvement, and what effects this model will have on children, families and the community.

She said the Parkside community will work diligently and mindfully in hopes that universal childcare will be implemented throughout B.C.

“We take pride in the fact that we can be a voice for all early childhood educators and care providers of children,” Plester said.

“We will continue to advocate for the continuation of this plan, which includes higher education for field workers, and quality, inclusive programs that honour our First Nations community and contribute towards reconciliation, all while co-creating a system in which early childhood education and educators are supported and recognized.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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