School District 72 will endorse a plan to integrate early childcare into schools.
The plan, called Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning, was presented to the board by local early childhood educators (ECE) Rhonda Teramura and Dee McPhee at the school board meeting on Tues., Oct. 4.
“You would be mandated and funded – and this is all new money that we’re asking for, not for you to be using your existing money – to plan, develop and govern the delivery of early care and learning programs for your district,” McPhee said to the board.
Early childhood education would be funded by the Ministry of Education, and would be integrated into schools, rather than remaining separate from the education system.
The plan also proposes adding an ECE in each kindergarten and Grade 1 classroom. McPhee said currently there is one ECE to eight children in childcare, but it jumps to one teacher to 22 students in kindergarten, which can make a difficult transition for teachers and students.
The two women spoke on behalf of the Coalition of Childcare Advocates of BC (CCCABC) and Early Childcare Educators of BC (ECEBC), and addressed numerous issues facing the childcare system in the province, including high fees, long wait lists, children in unregulated care, and low wages for ECEs making it difficult to retain professionals.
Teramura said people with an infant or toddler can expect to pay about $1,200 per month in childcare expenses, and there’s only space for about 20 per cent of kids in the province in regulated childcare centres.
She also pointed out that 38 per cent of ECEs earn poverty level wages, and earn about 50 per cent of wages similarly educated professionals earn.
“Currently B.C. has no strategy to solve this ongoing childcare crisis,” said Teramura.
The board passed a motion to endorse the plan at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
Board Vice-Chair Michele Babchuk said she believes it’s going to be popular among many districts.
“There is going to be other districts that sign on to this, it’s starting to really grab throughout the BCSTA (British Columbia School Trustees Association) and rightly so,” said Babchuk.
“I thought this was a fantastic initiative.”