The Vancouver School Board’s proposed plan to contract out childcare services to outside organizations and prevent school staff from running childcare programs is inefficient and will not adequately meet the urgent childcare needs of Vancouver families, says the union representing Vancouver education support workers.

CUPE 15, representing over 2,000 school board workers, says that the Vancouver School Board could provide more childcare spots, more quickly if it offered services directly with existing school board staff. The union is urging the Vancouver School Board and city leadership to reconsider its plan.

“In its current form, the proposed policy is a step backward, completely out of step with how other School Districts in B.C. and across Canada are setting up before- and after-school childcare,” says Warren Williams, president of CUPE 15. “The path the Vancouver School Board is taking us down does not recognize the full potential and opportunities available for seamless childcare within the School District to offer a more fulsome, progressive childcare system year-round for Vancouver families. Vancouver families won’t get the same quality of childcare services as other B.C. communities.”

Recent amendments to the province’s School Act, and federal funding for $10-a-day childcare, encourage School Districts to operate in-house childcare to promote a low-cost publicly provided childcare system for families.

Vancouver School Board’s proposed plan to take advantage of these initiatives, however, is to create separate childcare services run by outside organizations and limited to the school year. If adopted, the Vancouver School Board policy would open the door for Vancouver schools to contract out childcare services, instead of offering them directly – now and in the future.

“The Vancouver School Board already has the resources to offer in-house childcare, beyond just the physical spaces and infrastructure. We have qualified staff, such as education assistants and early childhood educators, with a proven track record of providing inclusive learning environments,” says Williams. “Getting an outside organization to create a new system from the ground up will be wholly unnecessary. The Vancouver School Board’s proposed plan will take much longer to get the spaces up and running. Vancouver families need them now.”

The City of Vancouver’s own conservative estimates shows that the current childcare supply meets only 43% of the need for children ages 0 to 12 years. In total, around 12,500 spaces are needed immediately – not even accounting for increased demand.

“The Vancouver School Board has a responsibility to do its part in helping families faced with the mounting unaffordability in our city. Quick access to low-cost, accessible, year-round childcare is crucial for these families,” says Williams. “Fully utilizing existing school resources and focusing funding to expanding current capacity is the quickest, most efficient, and most effective way to meet the needs of families and our community.”