Many Maple Ridge parents are desperate to find affordable child care. (THE NEWS files)

Many Maple Ridge parents are desperate to find affordable child care. (THE NEWS files)

New child care pilot project in Maple Ridge

Fees will be eliminated or capped at just $200 per month

Child care fees will be eliminated or capped at $200 per month for seven spaces in Maple Ridge, under a new provincial government pilot project.

The initiative is part of a project that will deliver $10-a-day (or less) child care to parents at 53 locations around the province, and is the next step towards a universal, affordable child care system, said a government press release.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled about today’s announcement. It’s a historic day for child care in B.C.,” said MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission Bob D’Eith.

“Child Care Prototype Sites will give us an opportunity to look at the future of child care, and plan next steps in a province-wide strategy.”

D’Eith added that families in Maple Ridge are in desperate need of affordable child care options.

“This investment will significantly reduce the cost of child care for thousands of families around the province and make life more affordable.”

Albion Good Beginnings Daycare is one of 53 organizations across the province that will be participating in the pilot project to deliver universal, affordable child care. This funding is part of the B.C. government’s $60 million Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) agreement with the Government of Canada.

The province selected the sites after a call for applications in June 2018. While priority was given to sites that had infant and toddler spaces, the province has expanded eligibility to include other types of licensed child care.

“We are finding new ways to make it easier for families to get by every month and to save for the future,” said Premier John Horgan. “Through this kind of action, where we significantly reduce the cost of child care, we can make life more affordable for so many B.C. families.”

Under the initiative, child care providers at the new prototype sites will receive government funding to cover their operational and administration costs. In return, they will reduce parent fees to a maximum of $200 per month for full-time enrolment during regular hours and will share their feedback with the B.C. government to help inform the future implementation of universal care.

As well, each site will receive a one-time quality improvement grant in 2019 to help enhance the quality of the programs it delivers. The amount of the quality improvement grant for each site will be determined as part of the province’s evaluations of the sites’ programs and improvement plans.

“Prototype sites give us a glimpse of what the future of universal child care in B.C. can be, and are critical as we design and refine our program moving forward,” said Katrina Chen, B.C.’s Minister of State for Child Care. “They build on the work we’ve already done to bring affordability relief to thousands of families through universal fee reductions and the Affordable Child Care Benefit.”

The prototype sites will operate until March 31, 2020.

For more information about the ChildCare BC prototypes, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcareprototypesites

To learn more about the Affordable Child Care Benefit, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/affordablechildcarebenefit