Public child care and early childhood education
British Columbia has no publicly delivered child care; all child care centres are either private for-profit or private non-profit. While there is no mandated role for the local/municipal level of government in regulated child care, several municipalities—the City of Vancouver in particular—have undertaken planning and funding roles.
British Columbia has publicly delivered part-day kindergarten as part of the school system. Full school-day public kindergarten for a fee is available in some communities (for example West Vancouver’s K-Plus program, where parents pay about $350 for an additional part-day program).
In 2006, the British Columbia Ministry of Education launched another kind of school-based early childhood program. StrongStart British Columbia is primarily publicly delivered by school authorities—a network of programs open at least three hours a day, five days a week. Preschool-aged children must be accompanied by an adult to take part in activities led by early childhood educators.
Following the 2008 feasibility study of full school-day kindergarten for three-, four- and five-year-olds, the provincial government announced in 2009 that universal full school-day kindergarten for five-year-olds would be phased in over two years, starting in September 2010.
Who provides child care?
In 2008, there were 42,447 non-profit and 30,456 for-profit centre-based spaces. The proportion of for-profit care has risen slightly over the years, from 38.6% in 1992 to 41.8% in 2008. As Figure 2 shows, data was not available in 2004 or 2006; 2008 data shows modest comparable expansion over 2001 in both sectors.
As Table 1 and Figure 1 show, British Columbia’s for-profit and non-profit sectors serve somewhat different groups, by age and program type:
- The non-profit sector is more likely to care for infants and toddlers; 23% of all full-day non-profit spaces are licensed as infant/toddler spaces (under 36 months), while only 14% of all full-day for-profit spaces are for infants/toddlers.
- The for-profit sector is more likely to care for preschoolers; 75% of all full-day non-profit spaces are for preschool-age children (30 months – school age) while 85% of full-day, for-profit spaces are for this age group.
- The non-profit sector is more likely to provide school-age spaces—41% of all (full-and part-day) centre-based non-profit spaces are school age, compared to 28% of total centre-based for-profit spaces.
- Both sectors provide part-day spaces in preschools (nursery schools) at about the same rate— 26-28% of total centre spaces in each sector.
British Columbia’s public spending for regulated child care increased fairly regularly from 1992 to 2004 and then dropped by more than $20 million. It increased again in 2005-2006 and 2007-2008.
More than a third of British Columbia’s total 2007/2008 allocation for regulated child care is spent on fee subsidies, and a substantial part of the budget— 25%—is allocated to Supported Child Care (special needs).
Provincial funding policy
- Total provincial budget allocations for regulated child care (2007/2008): $216,740,000.
- Fee subsidies may be used in for-profit and non-profit regulated services, unregulated child care arrangements and in the child’s own home. Child care providers may charge subsidized parents above the maximum subsidy rates.
The Child Care Subsidy Program was introduced.
Under an NDP government, British Columbia announced a plan to create 7,500 new child care spaces over three years in public buildings. This goal was not met.
A wage supplement was introduced for non-profit child care programs.
The supplement was extended to for-profit programs.
The government announced a multi-phased, four-year plan described as a comprehensive, publicly funded child care system. In March, the Child Care BC Act was proclaimed to provide a legislative timetable for the new funding program. A Liberal government was elected in May, and in August it repealed the implementation plan for the Act.
A new funding arrangement was introduced. The Child Care Operating Funding Program—available to all licensed child care types, non-profit and for-profit—replaced the Compensation Contribution Program, the Infant/Toddler Incentive Grant Program, and the Out-of-School Care Transition Funding Program.
The government extended capital funding to for-profit centres.
Relevant quality research
Kershaw, Forer and Goelman (2004) found that for-profit centres in British Columbia were more likely to close than non-profits. This “hidden fragility” in the for-profit market, the authors suggested, can have an impact on the overall stability of the child care sector in areas where there is a lot of for-profit care.
Who’s who in the for-profit sector?
The for-profit sector in British Columbia is made up of individual owner-operated centres and provincial chains such as Wind and Tide Preschools (19 locations, mostly in the Lower Mainland), Happy Campers Daycare (eight locations in Victoria) and Monkeys Play House (five locations around the province). Port Moody/Coquitlam-based chain Kinder Kampus (five locations around the province) also has connections to the Greater Toronto Area. Kids & Company is planning to move into British Columbia in 2009.
Chains (multiple ownership in the for-profit sector)1
larger chains (six or more locations)
Core Education and Fine Arts™ (CEFA™)
Founder and CEO: Natacha V. Beim
Six locations (three in Vancouver, one in Burnaby, one in Westminster, one in Langley); full-day and part-day programs.
Note: According to its website, CEFA™ has offered franchising opportunities since 2003.
Happy Campers Daycare
Owner/operator: Lucy-Ann Smith
Eight locations (Victoria)
Wind and Tide Preschools
Director/principal/spokesperson: Rachel Cram
Preschools, kindergarten, school-age programs, summer, independent kindergarten
19 locations (eight in Surrey, six in Langley, one in White Rock, one in Coquitlam, one in Delta, one in Chilliwack, one in Abbotsford)
Smaller chains (five or fewer locations)
Five locations (Four in Delta and one in Tsawwassen)
Jolly Giant Childcare Ltd.
Owner/operator: John Wilson
Four locations (Three in Nanaimo and one in Victoria)
Owners: Andrew and Safia Barr (Kinder Kampus Children’s Services of British Columbia Ltd.)
Five locations (Port Moody/Coquitlam)
Note: According to the Kinder Kampus website, there are also three related locations in Ontario (GTA).
Little Rascals Daycare Ltd.
Owner: The Lightfoot Family
Three locations, multiple programs
Monkey’s Playhouse Early Learning Childcare Centre
Owners: Linda Aquilini and Reaghan Garneau
Five locations (Port Moody, Coquitlam, Westbank, Maple Ridge and Kelowna)
Website: http://www.monkeysplay house.ca/index2.html
Kershaw, P., Forer, B. and Goelman, H. (2004). Hidden fragility: Closure among child care services in British Columbia. Paper presented at the Law and Public Policy Panel, Canadian Political Science Association Annual Meeting, June 2004, University of Manitoba. Retrieved August 2009 from http://www.cpsa-acsp.ca/ papers-2004/Kershaw-Goelman.pdf
1 The content of this section was compiled using the best information that is publicly available. Using these sources, every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate and comprehensive. Ownership of two centres was not included as a “chain”.