Our City is growing, and to shape our municipality into a more livable and healthy for all residents, the City of Langley is developing a Child Care Action Plan to create and facilitate more affordable childcare opportunities in the community.
The City applied for a grant from the Union of BC Municipalities and in the spring of 2019, we received a $25,000 from the Ministry of Social and Family Development. The funds will be used to create an action plan outlining actions by the city, service providers and other stakeholders and would lead to the creation of new childcare spaces over the next 10 years.
While childcare licensing and funding is a provincial responsibility, local governments play an important leadership role in planning, coordinating and advocating for childcare and supporting the delivery of quality childcare and early learning spaces. Child Care is an important need in Langley City, this project will help create a Langley City’s Child Care Action Plan to help guide Langley City Staff and Langley Child Care Service providers to address childcare needs and issues.
We are following a two-phase process to create a Langley City Child Care Action Plan. The City and the Township of Langley are partnering on the first phase of the project, which focuses on community engagement, and will then develop separate Action Plans in the second phase. Work to prepare the plan will get underway in fall 2019, and we anticipate completing the plan by spring 2020, with implementation to follow. The information gathered through this project will be shared with the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development and may influence future investments in childcare.
The phase one Parent and Stakeholder/Child Care Provider Engagement is now complete.
To facilitate feedback from parents, child care providers, and stakeholders, the following activities were undertaken:
1. Online surveys: Two online surveys engaged with a total of 1,076 people including 986 parents from a variety of backgrounds and 90 local and regional child care providers.
2. Parent meetings: Four parent meetings and five targeted parent meetings with underserved families met with a total of 81 parents.
3. Pop-up parent dialogues: Two pop-up parent dialogues took place at two locations, engaging with 46 parents and families.
4. Listening Posts: One listening post with passive activity boards was available for parents to complete on their own time.
5. Workshops & stakeholder meetings: Two workshops took place, the first engaging with 25 community stakeholders, the second workshop engaging with 23 child care providers. Additional meetings took place with stakeholders unable to attend the workshop.
Here's what we heard from the Parents, Stakeholders and Child Care Providers:
PARENT & STAKEHOLDER PRIORITIES
1. Affordable child care is the top priority.
2. More child care spaces are needed for all ages. Before and after school is in particular need.
3. Licensed child care is preferred.
4. Staff with qualifications, such as Early Childhood Educator (ECE), is preferred.
5. Increased flexible child care is needed, offered outside of regular business hours.
6. Families want healthy, safe, and quality child care.
7. Subsidies are important for everyone, and need to be easy to access.
8. Parents want child care to be close to home or at their child’s school.
CHILD CARE PROVIDER PRIORITIES
1. Finding and retaining qualified staff is the top priority.
2. Affordable and appropriate facilities are needed to develop child care programs.
3. Municipal processes should support and encourage the development of child care.
4. Provincial licensing requirements should support and encourage the development of child care.
HOW TO SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT & IMPROVEMENT OF CHILD CARE
1. Ensure municipal regulations and processes support the opening of new spaces.
2. Provide affordable and appropriate facilities for child care.
3. Encourage the opening of child care spaces in new developments and on location with schools.
4. Consider expanding the Active Beyond the Bell Program at schools without before and after school care.
5. Decrease the risk of eviction for child care operators located on school property.
6. Consider municipally operated child care facilities.
7. Better collaboration, coordination, and oversight of child care from all levels of government.
8. Advocate for less restrictive licensing and regulations for in-home child care.
9. Make staff training more accessible and affordable.
10. Boost subsidies and direct funding to increase child care affordability for families and higher wages for staff.
For the complete Phase One Community Engagement Report.
This study is the first of its kind in Langley City and outlines the current child care situation through consultation and research. The report provides a gaps analysis, an assessment of the need, identifies targets for child care space creation, and outlines strategic actions. The Action Plan includes recommendations and tools to create new child care spaces based on the gaps identified in the Needs Assessment.
Langley City received $25,000 from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) for this purpose, and engaged the services of CitySpaces Consulting to complete this Action Plan.
Findings from this Child Care Action Plan will provide Langley City with a better understanding of the City’s child care needs and a recommended course of action to address the identified gaps.
The recommended actions are grouped within six categories, presented here as priorities:
1. To improve child care affordability.
2. To increase the number of quality licensed spaces.
3. To strengthen partnerships and collaboration.
4. To explore strategies to address staffing challenges.
5. To review existing before and after-school programming and identify areas for expansion.
6. To monitor data and understand how child care needs change over time.
The Child Care Action Plan identifies recommendations and tools to address the challenges and gaps outlined in the Needs Assessment, and outlines an approach to guide Langley City in delivering new child care spaces.
On June 15, 2020 Langley City Council endorsed the Langley City Child Care Action Plan.
Successful child care provision requires partnerships and collaboration. Though many of these actions involve Langley City, the municipal role is primarily related to land use planning, zoning, and convening different parties to pursue actions. Funding is primarily the responsibility of the province, and service delivery is currently provided by the non-profit and private sectors.