On SD40 and their Child Care Space funding request

Recently New Westminster’s school district (SD40) took a look at asking the provincial government for funding to supply some child care spaces at their schools. This is great! Child care is lacking in New Westminster and we need more.

What isn’t great is that the school district plans to ask for funding for 136 spaces for children that aren’t attending New Westminster schools. I don’t think that this is acceptable, so I wrote a letter to the New West Board of Education to ask them to fund school age child care spaces. Here’s the letter!

Dear SD40 Board of Education,

My name is Brad Cavanagh, I am a New Westminster resident and parent of a child at Qayqayt Elementary. I am writing to you regarding the proposed request for provincial funding for addition of child care spaces at four New Westminster schools. The proposed plan would request funding for 136 spaces for infants, toddlers, and children from ages of 3 to 5.

In my opinion, this plan is inadequate and contrary to what the school district should be requesting.

There is a need for child care spaces for children of all ages in New Westminster; this is not in question. However, infant, toddler, and preschool age child care spaces are relatively easier to open by third parties than school age spaces are. Logistics alone make school age child care spaces difficult, as getting children to and from school is challenging. Finding employees who can work split shifts across eleven hours of the day can be difficult. Leasing a space that remains empty for nearly seven hours a day is expensive, or requires complicated sharing arrangements. This all leads to a lack of child care spaces for school aged children. Having funding provided by the provincial government for child care spaces at schools these spaces will help with some of these logistical difficulties.

Further, the role of the school district is to provide education and services for school age children. The school district already provides services for this age group, and providing before and after school spaces for this age group slots in well with those services and aligns with the school district’s purpose.

The report states that the District recognizes the importance of child care on site at its schools to support families, enrolment and welcoming future students to school communities. Shouldn’t the District’s current students be a priority?

Anecdotally, I recently asked my daughter’s before and after school care provider (Westminster Children’s After School Society at Qayqayt Elementary) if they had any open spaces, as a friend’s before and after school care provider will be closing in May. They told me that not only do they not have any openings, they have a waitlist of nearly 180 children. Their other centres have huge waitlists as well; this is not a number that’s out of the ordinary for this school age child care provider.

I urge you to consider modifying the request for child care funding to drastically increase the number of school age child care spaces, as it aligns with the school district’s purpose and better serves children that currently attend New Westminster’s schools.

Brad Cavanagh.