Childcare in Vancouver

This is about an item that appeared in the Georgia Straight last week, but I’m still a bit steamed about it. Melissa De Genova, newly elected NPA Parks Board Commissioner had this to say on childcare in Parks Board facilities:

“During the election, the whole entire election, I said, ‘I support our space, our community centres or recreation facilities—if we have the space, we would provide that for child care,'” De Genova told the Straight by phone.

Great! But the election is over. And here’s what she thinks now:

“But I do not feel that it’s appropriate that park board operates child-care facilities. And then the questions that I have are, with this joint council on childcare, how much money is this going to cost? And we’ve already had so many budget cuts, so I think that we have to work with what we have right now, instead of creating new councils.”

De Genova is righteously raked over the coals by her fellow Commissioners and in the comments of the Straight piece. In addition to points and factual corrections made there, here are a few other things:

The City of Vancouver’s Childcare Protocol of 2004 notes There are currently about 9,200 licensed child care spaces, with a capacity of about 12,000 children in Vancouver. These spaces are either full or part time group care, preschool, child minding and family child care for children ages birth to 12 years. There are, however, 28,535 children under the age of 6 and an additional 43,830 children between 6 and 14 years of age. Crude calculations, using labour force participation rates only, would suggest that conservatively, Vancouver is serving about 15% of the potential need.

I am one of those parents who use a childcare program operated out of a Parks Board facility. Here’s what I had to do to be one of lucky 15%: on the day of registration get up at 3am on two occasions (once for Kindercare and once for After School Care) to procure one of the two openings that year at this facility. On both occasions I was not the first in line. About 30 people came after me (none of whom got a spot). One woman was in tears – she was certain she would be forced to quit her job to take care of her children and this would destroy her economically.

The fees for these programs, while less than daycare, is high.

De Genova, to my knowledge, never voiced this concern during the election campaign. This is, obviously, an issue that is of paramount concern for many voters with young children in Vancouver. If De Genova’s position had been known I am certain she would not have been elected.

Congratulations Melissa.

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