At the November 12th, 2019 Committee of the Whole Meeting, Council passed a resolution to the support the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen grant application to the UBCM Community Child Care Planning Fund. The application was a partnership between Keremeos, the ROOS, Summerland, Oliver and Princeton. The multi-jurisdictional Steering Committee reviewed eight proposals for the project and awarded the contract to develop a regional Child Care Action Plan to the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC BC).
The project involved conducting a needs assessment, developing community profiles, conducting research on successful practices, defining quality child care and reviewing local policies. After engaging with communities, the Steering Committee agreed upon targets and a final report was produced. The regional findings showed that there is a significant shortage of child care spaces, the costs of child care are too expensive and there is a shortage of experienced Early Childhood Educators. Regional and consistent targets for new child care spaces were set which included 33 spaces per 100 children for under three-year-old’s, 50 spaces per 100 children for three-to-five year old’s and 33 spaces per 100 children for school aged children.
The study revealed that Oliver is doing far better than neighbouring areas in terms of the number of child care spaces per children. The only target shortfall is in the under three-yearold’s in which 10 new spaces are required by 2031. That being said, the study did reveal that the existing daycares in Oliver are full with waitlists and that more spaces are needed beyond the target set by this study.
Going forward, the Province has announced a commitment to universal publicly funded $10-aday daycare as well as the integration into the Ministry of Education by 2023. Local and regional governments do not have the mandate or resources to fully address the unmet needs for child care on their own, but by working together, the region’s communities can support each other in joint ventures to build capacity in the region.