Thousands of child care spaces needed in the Central Okanagan to meet basic needs - InfoNews

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Thousands of child care spaces needed in the Central Okanagan to meet basic needs

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May 14, 2020 - 7:30 PM

Child care for front line health care workers became a key issue in helping to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, just before the disease hit B.C., the first-ever inventory of Central Okanagan child care needs was compiled by a consultant.

She found that there were 9,620 children under the age of six in the region but only 17.4 spaces per 100 children when the current provincial target is 30 spaces.

For the 12,480 children aged six to 12, there are 18.1 spaces per 100 children with a provincial target of 80.

This is the first time there has been a full inventory of child care spaces for the region and is part of a province-wide effort to determine what needs to be done to not only maintain those levels but to raise the ratios to provincial targets, Daylin Mantyka, a communications engagement specialist with Urban Matters and a co-author of the report, told iNFOnews.ca.

Municipalities throughout B.C. got grants to fund these studies with the Central Okanagan cities choosing to join together to do one study since child care needs are so interconnected in this region.

The report shows that access levels for younger children range from a low of 5.1 per 100 in Peachland to 28.1 in Kelowna. For school-age children, Lake Country is lowest at 17 while West Kelowna is the best served at 24.

The study was presented to Lake Country council last week and will be going to the other councils in the weeks to come.

While the data will help the province develop strategies for increasing child care spaces, the study makes a dozen recommendations. Those include having local governments, child care agencies and others, like Interior Health, work together to bring more day care spaces to the region.

It also calls for more child care spaces to be included with schools and advocates for higher wages, better benefits and more education for child care workers.


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