More new childcare spaces could be coming to Delta thanks to the school district.
The board of education at its June 7 meeting voted unanimously in favour of a recommendation for the district to have a new childcare policy, which aligns with provincial legislation.
Bill 8, the Education Statutes Amendment Act, came into effect in March 2020.
It’s an amendment of the School Act related to childcare facilities located on board of education properties, including a prescriptive order from the Ministry of Education regarding the formal establishment of board policies to govern such facilities.
The amendment includes a provision that school boards may provide childcare programs on district properties to students enrolled with the district if both the board is a licensee and that the childcare program is provided only on school days before or after school hours.
The board may charge fees to a student to whom the childcare program is provided if the fees are not more than the direct costs incurred.
A school board may also permit a licensee to use board property to provide a childcare program.
If a board permits a licensee to use board property, the board must ensure that any revenue obtained by the board from that use is not more than the direct and indirect costs incurred.
If a childcare program is provided on board property by the board or by a licensee other than the board, a school board must ensure that the program is in accordance with the district policy and does not disrupt or otherwise interfere with educational activities.
Assistant superintendent Brad Bauman told the Delta School Board that the new policy is a “Deltafide” version of a template used province-wide, developed by legal counsel and shared through the BC School Trustees Association.
The Delta policy provides the board options on how the district can provide childcare as a licensee as well as clear direction on how it can establish contracts and partnerships with licensed childcare providers.
In 2020, Delta council approved a new Delta Childcare Strategy and Action Plan.
The strategy includes 24 recommendations which are grouped into three strategic directions including increasing accessibility, increased affordability as well as a focus on quality.
Among those recommendations is working towards a goal of adding 1,051 new childcare spaces over 10 years to reach the Canadian average ratio, as well as having a partnership with the Delta School District to explore options for co-locating childcare programs in elementary schools.
Delta received a grant through the Community Child Care Planning Program to undertake a childcare needs assessment, which found 80 per cent of survey respondents reported that there is an inadequate supply of childcare services.
In particular, there is a need for before and after school care, infant and toddler care, flexible hours for parents and space for operators to build new facilities, a report to council notes, adding the findings were consistent with many other communities across B.C. where childcare has been described as being in a “crisis state.”