The British Columbia government has announced a pilot project aimed at providing fully integrated before- and after-school care directly on school premises.

Scheduled for launch in September 2024, this initiative will utilize existing school infrastructure, resources, and staff to provide uninterrupted care for children throughout the school day, eliminating the need for additional pickups and drop-offs outside regular school hours. Early childhood educators and support staff within these school districts are expected to play a key role in delivering early learning and child care services within classroom settings.

The introduction of on-site child care has been warmly received by parents and advocates alike, who anticipate a seamless transition and consistent care for families and children. 

“For children, there are fewer transitions off-site. They know they’re safe, they know who their educators are. For educators, there’s more stability when they’re employed through the district. And for families, having one pick-up and drop off spot where they know their children are safe is really important. It’s really a win-win situation,” notes Sharon Gregson, spokesperson for the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC. 

The new before- and after-school care spaces will adhere to regional affordability benchmarks set annually by the ministry, currently ranging between $468 and $705 per month for group child care for children from grade 1 to age 12. In addition, eligible families stand to benefit from fee reductions of up to $115 per month, per child, in addition to support offered through the Affordable Child Care Benefit.

With an allocation of over $2 million over two years to selected school districts—Chilliwack, Nanaimo-Ladysmith, and Nechako Lakes—the government aims to create approximately 180 new licensed childcare spaces. This pilot project will gather data to inform future expansions of the model to other districts across the province.

British Columbia has previously implemented similar care provisions for kindergarteners through the Seamless Day Kindergarten program which integrates before- and after-school care into the kindergarten classroom, delivered by certified early childhood educators (ECEs) who work alongside the classroom teacher.