Early childhood is a crucial, time-limited period of human development and data from BC’s Early Development Index is showing increasing risks of less than optimal development among young children. Without supportive public policy and needed services, young families are stressed by the demands of caring and earning. All young children and their families should be able to access the ECD supports and services that they need. We know what will help and are looking for political commitment.
There are over 274,000 children under the age of 6 living in BC.
- 31% of BC children now enter Kindergarten vulnerable in at least one area of development — social, emotional, cognitive, communications or physical, an increase of 2.4% since 2008.
- BC under-invests in early childhood compared to international norms, spending just 0.2% of GDP on early care and learning vs. the 0.7% average spending by other developed countries. Children who do not benefit from proper supports in their early years are at risk of life-long health issues (physical and mental), poor academic achievement, difficulty with employment, criminality and other hazards. There are enormous social and economic costs associated with this under- investment in BC’s young children.
Q: If elected, will your party commit to increase BC’s investments in early childhood supports and services in order to reduce rising vulnerability among young children?
- Several years of flat budgets for contracted early intervention services and the Ministry for Children and Family Development have resulted in cuts to services for children with special needs.
- As a consequence, during crucial early months and years of development, thousands of children with special needs in BC face long wait times for therapies, other services and for supported child development spaces (the inclusion of children with special needs in child care programs).
- Waiting for needed services cause unnecessary stress for families and permanent impairments to affected children.
Q: If elected, will your party increase funding in order to reduce wait times for young children needing early intervention services?
- The key area of early childhood care and education has suffered from public policy neglect for decades, which is creating huge repercussions on our current economy and our future productivity.
- Nearly 122,000 mothers in BC who have a child under the age of 6 are in the paid labour force.
- BC only has licensed child care spaces for about 20% of children. Families put their unborn children on wait lists for infant-toddler care and then watch their children age out of eligibility before they receive a space. School-age child care is also unaffordable and in short supply for many families.
- Child care is largely a parent-funded service and BC has among the highest child care fees in the country, eroding the take-home pay of parents more than taxes do.
- The lack of access to affordable child care is a barrier to women with children trying to leave abusive relationships.
- First Call, along with hundreds of groups and individuals around BC, has endorsed the $10 a Day Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning proposed by the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and the Early Childhood Educators of BC.
Q: If elected, will your party implement the $10 a Day Child Care Plan to begin addressing the child care crisis facing BC families with young children?
- BC lacks a comprehensive early years plan that ensures an entitlement to a full range of supports and services for all young families and their children.
- Early childhood development programs have been greatly impacted by funding insecurity in BC. In 2009 and 2010, a number of cuts were made to government funded programs, and a pattern of cutting and later reinvesting in programs has emerged, such as with the Roots/Seeds of Empathy programs, Success By 6, and funding from gaming grants.
Q: If elected, will your party commit to establishing an entitlement for all BC families to a full range of early years supports and services, such as family support programs, quality affordable child care services, early intervention services and others, supported by a multi- year, stable funding base?
- Early Childhood Development in BC – First Call’s Framework for Action: www.firstcallbc.org/pdfs/EarlyChildhood/1-framework%202008.pdf
- Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Care and Learning: www.cccabc.bc.ca/cccabcdocs/integrated.html
- Human Early Learning Partnership: www.earlylearning.ubc.ca
- Children First Sites: www.bcchildrenfirst.ca/communities.html
- Success by Six: www.successby6bc.ca
- Generation Squeeze: www.gensqueeze.ca
- BC Association of Pregnancy Outreach Programs: www.bcapop.ca
- BC Aboriginal Child Care Society: www.acc-society.bc.ca/index.php
- BC Association of Family Resource Programs: www.frpbc.ca
- BC Council for Families: www.bccf.ca