Early learning funds now available

Golden’s Early Learning and Care Stakeholder Action Group (ELCSAG) can now apply for the funding they have been waiting for.

Golden’s Early Learning and Care Stakeholder Action Group (ELCSAG) can now apply for the funding they have been waiting for.

Child-care providers throughout the province are encouraged to apply for a total of $14.8 million in major capital funding to create new licensed child-care spaces for B.C. kids. Starting last week, non-profit child-care providers can apply for up to $500,000, while private child-care organizations can apply for up to $250,000. Funding can be used to:

* Build a new child care facility, including the cost of buying land or a building.

* Assemble a modular building and develop a site.

* Renovate an existing building.

* Buy eligible equipment (including playground equipment) and furnishings to support new child-care spaces in an existing facility.

Preference will be given to applications that will create child-care spaces in underserved areas of B.C., such as Surrey, Abbotsford and Langford, and on school grounds, where children can smoothly transition from early years programs, to the classroom, to after-school care. Construction is expected to begin this fiscal year.

Golden’s early learning and care hub, which would be built as an addition to Alexander Park Elementary, fits all these criteria, and ELCSAG has been waiting for an official list of funding criteria since last year. Although the project was moving forward with or without this funding, ELCSAG was happy to see the provincial government make this kind of commitment to early learning. The Golden project had been on the ministry’s radar since last year’s UBCM.

Applications will be accepted during three intake periods:

* May 2 – June 30, 2014,  Sept. 1 – Oct. 31, 2014, Feb. 1 – March 31, 2015

Under the B.C. Early Years Strategy, the Province aims to support the creation of up to 1,000 new child-care spaces between now and March 2015, and will also invest $17.1 million next fiscal year for an additional 1,000 spaces.

This will build on the approximately 104,000 spaces that government currently supports throughout B.C.

Since 2001, the Government of B.C. has invested more than $35 million in major capital funding to help community partners create more than 6,500 licensed child-care spaces.

Today’s announcement coincides with the start of Child Care Month in B.C., a time to celebrate the work of thousands of caring and committed child-care operators and early childhood educators across the province.

The B.C. government is also recognizing the extraordinary work of child-care providers by proclaiming May 15 as Child Care Provider Appreciation Day.