›› Erin Gray

Just over a year ago, our Child Care ­programs at the Fernwood Community Centre became one of the 53 Universal Child Care Prototype sites in BC. What an honour it has been to be a part of this initiative. Part of this funding came to us in the form of Improvement Grants and it has allowed us to imagine and ­implement upgrades to our programs in ways that could not have been done to this ­magnitude in the past. The biggest investment will happen in the upcoming upgrades to the outside play spaces for the Infant & ­Toddler and 3 to 5 programs.

Families in our Child Care programs saw the benefit as a savings in their child care spending. Their fees were reduced to just $10.00 per day! What did this mean for them?

Here is a letter from one of our families:

“We are a family who was fortunate to have their daycare provider be selected for the Province’s $10.00 per day ­daycare pilot project. The benefits for our ­family have been more than we originally ­comprehended and go well beyond the obvious financial assistance of the program. We were able to relocate our finances to allow for saving for a down payment on a home in Victoria, our children’s RESPs, and our own retirement savings.

The reduction of financial stress over the past year has helped us become a healthier and happier family. It has given us the freedom to enjoy family activities together that otherwise we may not have been able to afford. In the past year, we’ve enjoyed swimming and gym activities at recreation centres, visiting local ­attractions and ­museums, and weekend trips around the Island; which all ultimately goes right back into the BC economy. The ­experiences we’ve shared and memories created as a family have been priceless.

The pilot program currently expires on March 2020 and to date, there has been no word from the provincial government if it will continue. If the program does not continue, our daycare costs will increase to over $2,000 per month which will effectively eliminate further long term savings and limit family activities. We strongly urge the Province to recognize the importance of continuing the program in order to support BC families by providing affordable daycare to all.”