Action Plan identifies 29 key recommendations to address child care in Whistler
The final report for the Whistler Child Care Planning Project was presented to Whistler Council at the Regular Meeting on August 18, 2020. The report includes a preliminary action plan that will help guide community partners and the RMOW to help to improve access to child care services within the community. While the Province of British Columbia is responsible for overseeing child care services, staffing qualifications and licensing throughout B.C., there is a key advocacy role for local government to engage with provincial and federal governments.
The actions focus on two key areas of greatest identified need and the largest service gaps in Whistler: after-school care for school-age children; and full-time, facility-based group care for children 0 to 3 years of age. There was general agreement among the stakeholder participants that took part in the Whistler Child Care Planning Project that the assets, partnerships, programs, policies and facilities enabling the current provision of child care need to be sustained and built upon, leveraging existing opportunities to the greatest extent possible.
In March of 2019, the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) and the Province provided a grant of $24,840 to the RMOW to conduct a child care needs assessment and develop a community child care space creation action plan. The RMOW oversaw a study to inventory existing community child care spaces and conducted parent and provider surveys along with three stakeholder workshops to determine needs, barriers and trends related to child care in Whistler.
The report’s other findings include:
- Whistler's current child care access rate is 14.3, meaning there are 14.3 licensed child care spaces per 100 children who are from birth to 12 years of age.
- The biggest barriers to providing child care in Whistler relate to the ability to attract and retain qualified staff in existing facilities due to the educational qualifications required for childcare workers in BC as well as access to facilities (due to limited availability and cost).
- RMOW municipal policies and initiatives available for supporting child care in Whistler include the Official Community Plan (OCP), tax exemptions passed onto some of Whistler’s key facility-based providers, a cost-recovery approach to programs delivered to children including staff dedicated to delivering municipal child care programs. OCP policies support consideration of child care facilities and space through new developments.
- Provincial regulations relating to child care are in place to protect children and ensure a quality care and learning environment; they decide on requirements related to space, caregiver training and funding. Work is being done by the Province to address some of the key barriers affecting child care in Whistler and around the province, especially those related to increasing the supply of qualified Early Childhood Educators (ECEs).
The actions and targets in the Whistler Child Care Planning Project’s final report will be used to inform advocacy efforts with senior governments, and will be refined through other research and planning initiatives, including the RMOW Strategic Planning Committee, the Recreation Department’s annual work plans and corporate budgeting. The RMOW will also collaborate with key partners to reconvene a local Child Care Working Group annually to provide the space and time for a check-in on progress related to increasing access to child care in Whistler.
The final report can be found at www.whistler.ca/childcare