Parents relieved from daycare, preschool fees during pandemic response

Childcare centres to be compensated for children not attending and parents not paying; this ensures daycares are open for frontline pandemic workers

Parents will be able to keep their young children away from preschools and daycares and not be burdened with fees during the COVID-19 pandemic response, based on new emergency funding measures announced Friday by the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Privately operated licensed childcare centres in B.C. remaining open during the COVID-19 pandemic response will receive enhanced government funding for lost income due to children remaining at home.

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Katrine Conroy, minister of children and family development, also announced Friday that parents who pull their children out of centres receiving the enhanced funding will be assured their child’s space will still be there once it is deemed appropriate to return.

The centres, noted a government statement, are eligible to receive seven times their average monthly funding from the government, which is expected to cover approximately 75% of a group facility’s average monthly operating expenses. Facilities remaining open will continue to receive early childhood educator (ECE) wage enhancements for their staff.

“Reducing the number of children in childcare centres will make it easier for licensees and ECEs to follow preventative health measures. The Ministry of Health is developing detailed guidelines to inform licensees, ECEs and licensing officers on implementing best practice, which will be circulated to child care providers shortly.”

In addition to support for open centres, which will allow children of frontline pandemic workers to be cared for, extra money will be given to those that close. To cover fixed costs such as leases, closed centres are eligible to receive two times their average monthly funding from government, which is expected to cover approximately 20% of an average group facility’s monthly operating expenses.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, advised all parents who can, should care for their children at home, stated the ministry.

It took close to two weeks for childcare operators to get significant guidance on operating during the pandemic. As more and more services closed and physical distancing measures were implemented a chorus of parents and operators formed across B.C. to ensure funding was in place to protect spaces and not burden parents with costs for services not being rendered.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states: “The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults. However, children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented with mild symptoms. Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported.”

gwood@glaciermedia.ca

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