The gaps present in Campbell River’s child care system will soon be better understood so they can hopefully be addressed after the city – in partnership with the Campbell River Family Network – received a $25,000 grant to develop a needs assessment and space creation strategy for the community.
Joyce McMann, chair of the Campbell River Family Network, went before council back in January asking for its support in attaining the funding, saying “child care has become as important to the healthy functioning of a vital, thriving community as the system of public education, and without the city taking a stand on trying to get a handle on these challenges and moving forward, we are looking at a community at risk of stagnating.”
“Accessible, quality child care is essential to the success of a community,” said Mayor Andy Adams in the announcement that the grant had, in fact, been received. “Child care plays a vital role in supporting Campbell River families and in attracting newcomers. Assessing local child care needs and planning to create more spaces will help meet the demand in our growing community.”
The grant comes from the $1-billion injection into the provincial child care sector announced last year by the provincial government, which included $237 million to create new licenced child care spaces.
But before those spaces could be allocated, assessments would need to be done to figure out the best places – and ways – to implement them, so funding was offered to perform those assessments.
The project is estimated to take approximately eight months and will include developing a comprehensive inventory and mapping of existing child care spaces and stakeholder engagement to develop short, medium and long-term space creation targets.
Alison Boucher, child care consultant with PacificCARE Family Enrichment Society, says the study will help organizations like hers better serve the community.
“We are very pleased the BC Government has made affordable, quality child care a priority for our families, and we are happy to have this opportunity to get a comprehensive inventory of spaces in our community, which will help us establish where more spaces are needed now and into the future,” Boucher says. “We are also pleased to be able to partner with the city to make child care a priority for community development.”
“The Campbell River Family Network, working with parents, employers, and early years professionals, has long been aware of a mounting concern related to the availability of quality, affordable child care,” McMann said after the grant announcemnt was made. “The growing awareness of the critical nature of the early years in setting the trajectory for lifelong health and success adds pressure to parents’ search for the right care for their children.”
The 2018 State of the Child Report for Campbell River identified that one in three children is vulnerable in one of more of the early development measurements such as health and wellness, communication and language. Accessible, affordable child care plays a key role in early childhood development.
For more information or to get involved visit Campbell River Family Network at crfamilynetwork.ca