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New childcare spaces exceed targets

May 3 2016

“The City of Vancouver is committed to early childhood development and supporting busy families," said Mayor Gregor Robertson

Children in a group

We are now more than half-way to our four-year target of creating 1,000 new childcare spaces, part of a record investment in expanding childcare in Vancouver.

As part of the Council-directed target for 2015-2018:

  • 577 new childcare spaces have been approved
  • 188 new spaces have been built since 2015
  • 389 spaces are committed and currently under development 

Target doubled for 2015-2018

More than 500 City-facilitated childcare spaces were built between 2012-2014, exceeding the City’s previous childcare target.

City Council doubled the target for 2015-2018 to 1,000 new spaces as part of the Council priority to make it easier for families to live in Vancouver. 

Commitment to supporting families

“The City of Vancouver is committed to early childhood development and supporting busy families, and we’re proud to be making a significant contribution to new childcare spaces for younger children,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson.

“Co-locating full-day childcare in an elementary school offers families a convenient ‘one-stop’ approach to early learning and care services, and a smart use of public space that not only improves access to quality childcare, but makes Vancouver a more inclusive and healthy city.” 

Following today’s proclamation of Early Learning and Child Care Month, in which Mayor Robertson was joined by children from the Vancouver Society of Children’s Centres childcare programs, Council received an update on the City’s progress towards its childcare goals. 

Healthy City Strategy role in childcare

Our Healthy City Strategy’s good start goal to decrease child vulnerability and improve school readiness, is reinforced through the creation of quality childcare spaces.

Children that have a good start in their first 6 years of life tend to do better at school, secure better paid jobs, and enjoy better physical and mental health as adults.

The Healthy City Strategy’s good start goal supports children, parents, and families to ensure that Vancouver’s children have the best chance of enjoying a healthy childhood.  

Need for childcare spaces

The need for childcare spaces in Vancouver is acute.

The current supply of childcare spaces across the city indicates that only approximately 32% of existing childcare needs (for all children up to 12 years) are being met.

This leaves a citywide shortfall of over 18,000 spaces. 

Partnership with Vancouver Board of Education

We recently partnered with the Vancouver Board of Education to co-locate a new 69-space childcare centre for children up to four years old, as part of the seismic replacement project at Sir Sandford Fleming Elementary.

Thanks to a unique partnership with the Ministry of Education, and Vancouver School Board, we are providing $6.3 million, while the Province is contributing $500,000 through the Ministry of Children and Family Development to help build the childcare centre.  

Elementary school-age programs

In addition to new partnerships to co-locate care for younger children in schools, elementary schools are also home to school-age childcare programs, serving children ages 5-12 before and after school.

According to March 2016 data from Westcoast Child Care Resource and Referral, there are 2,680 licensed childcare spaces in 71 programs in 56 different elementary schools in Vancouver.

This includes the 403 school-age care spaces in 17 schools that have been created in partnership with the Vancouver Board of Education since 2011, through the City’s School Age Care Expansion Grant. 

Importance of outdoor childcare spaces

Following the staff update, UBC Professor Susan Herrington shared recent research about outdoor childcare spaces and their roles in children’s healthy development.

Professor Herrington recently completed a 5-year study on the design of outdoor play spaces for young children.

Her research shows that quality outdoor childcare spaces not only allow children to thrive in terms of their physical development, but also have significant impact on kids’ mental health, social development, and connection to nature.