Squamish children deserve to be well cared for while mom and dad work. This is such a simple statement and so obvious, and yet for many families in Squamish finding appropriate child care is a struggle. Parents and local experts say the lack of quality, affordable childcare is reaching a crisis point.
According to district staff, Squamish has about 780 childcare spaces – equaling 23 spaces for every 100 children in the district, based on 2011 statistics. As we all know, Squamish has grown exponentially in the last five years, so it is safe to say far more children are currently without a spot in daycare. The lack of care means families are juggling between different facilities, resorting to unregulated care or are relying on a patchwork of inconsistent alternatives. Experts, and logic, tell us children need stable, consistent and enriching care to thrive.
With our young demographic and shortage of trained caregivers, due in part to the high cost of housing, the child care squeeze is perhaps more pronounced in Squamish, but the issue touches families across B.C.
The $10-a-Day Child Care plan offers a possible solution, by putting more responsibility for providing care on government. This is not a radical or new idea. The province of Quebec has a $7-per-day system in place.
Denmark has municipally managed and mostly government-funded care. Sweden and Germany also have longstanding programs in place that entitle all young children to free or inexpensive daycare.
The $10-a-Day Child Care plan proposes daycare fees be set at $10 per day for full-time care and $7 a day for part-time care. For families with annual incomes under $40,000, daycare would be free.
For the program to work, the federal government would need to install legislation and transfer dedicated funds. The province would need to up its investment in early childhood education quite dramatically. This sea change of putting children and families first wouldn’t happen overnight. It would require a cultural shift in how we view our societal responsibility for the next generation. But momentum seems to be shifting. To date, scores of organizations, academics, businesses and bodies of government have endorsed the plan.
In 2014, the former Squamish council passed a motion in support of the plan and that endorsement still stands.
With a provincial election on the horizon, Squamish parents should be vocal in requiring politicians from all parties make child care solutions a priority.
Squamish kids deserve nothing less.