Premier gets earful from Social Planning

Lexi Bainas, The Citizen/Post Media

Premier Christy Clark has responded positively to Social Planning Cowichan’s call for provincial help in providing affordable, quality childcare.

So many of Clark’s recent pronouncements have centered around the need to help families that SPC felt it was worthwhile to tell her about the Cowichan Valley’s great need for help for families with young children, according to the group’s chair, Candace Spilsbury.

“There is a severe need here,” she said.

SPC backed their request with research, which is showing that the need for childcare space has “dramatically” increased since 2007, according to Spilsbury.

Programs such as whole-day Kindergarten and Strong Start, often pointed to by government as solutions, are useful but don’t always fit with families.

Strong Start offers a chance for children and families to come together but the requirement is that a family member or childare provider accompanies the child.

Statistics are against that system, however, as 70 per cent of working women return to work after having children, Spilsbury said.

“Full-day Kindergarten is a wonderful opportunity for five-year-olds, but the children still need pre- and after-school childcare and as well there’s that bulk of children from birth to five who need childcare prior to Kindergarten,” she added.

Then, of course, there is the concept of childcare being “affordable.”

Spilsbury “absolutely” believes that needs a government buy-in because the childcare subsidy is not completely providing enough support for many families here.

“And, it’s costly to provide those programs,” she said.

SPC often hears of families that are struggling to find a way to manage by taking advantage of offers from a next-door neighbour, a family member, or someone else who comes forward.

But, these well-meaning efforts offer only “survival” level childcare, she said….

Sending the research to the premier seems to have struck a chord. Spilsbury has received what she and her group consider a positive letter from Clark….