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Kelowna child care centre selected to deliver low-cost universal child care

Kelowna’s Little Scholars program has qualified

Families at Okanagan College’s Little Scholars are now paying no more than $200 a month per child as part of the B.C. government’s universal child care prototype project.

“Little Scholars is a welcoming, inclusive centre, which provides dedicated services for young parents, Indigenous families and children with extra support needs,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “This focus on inclusivity means that no one is left behind, and every child at the centre is able to learn and thrive under the care of these dedicated staff.”

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Okanagan College’s Little Scholars program is one of more than 50 sites chosen to offer low-cost child care to B.C. parents. The program is run by the YMCA of Okanagan, with children encouraged to learn and discover through play. The centre teaches children about Indigenous culture through story time and puppetry, traditional foods and participation in the college’s annual powwow. Little Scholars also offers care to children with extra support needs, working in partnership with Starbright Children’s Development Centre to provide one-to-one support and access to other services such as physical therapy.

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“We committed to introduce affordable, accessible and quality child care for B.C. parents,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “This project is a step toward fulfilling our goal to bring universal child care to B.C., and we’re excited to be working with organizations like the YMCA to make life better for families.”

Childcare BC Universal Prototype Sites will model what high-quality, affordable, universal child care may look like for B.C. families. This funding will allow Okanagan College’s Little Scholars program to offer 51 low-cost licensed child care spaces to parents in Kelowna. In all, parents of around 2,500 children will benefit from the prototype project.

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This project is funded through a $60-million investment as part of the Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the Government of Canada. It complements the Province’s $1-billion three-year investment through Childcare BC to move toward its long-term vision of affordable, accessible and quality child care for any family that needs it.

Parents who are not accessing these low-cost spaces may still be eligible for support through the Affordable Child Care Benefit, which provides up to $1,250 per child a month for families with an annual income of $111,000 or less. Families using licensed child care may also see savings through the Child Care Fee Reduction, which has so far helped to reduce the cost of almost 52,000 child care spaces around the province.

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