Let Decision Makers Know
As a parent, you are busy. You don’t have time to attend rallies or protests or maintain a blog or attend PAC meetings . . . and that is exactly what the decision makers are counting on.
If you only do one thing, I ask that you contact your school’s principal. He/she has the greatest impact on whether or not more OSC spaces will come to your school. If the principal is not behind the call for more spaces, then it is a far far more difficult task. Let your principal know this is important to you.
Having reviewed this website, you now know more than most about the subject of Out of School Care. Many politicians still confuse OSC with regular day care (ages 0-5). They think this issue has already been addressed by the most recent child care funding announcements. It has not. There is no mention of Out of School Care wait lists.
Regardless, more funding is not the answer.
Instead, awareness is key to solving the shortage issue. So very few people even know this is a problem. Before my son started school, I had never heard of Out of School Care and assumed we would just find a care provider like we have always done. The reality is, decision makers are not hearing from parents about OSC and so they don’t feel it warrants their attention.
That needs to change!
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Just three changes need to happen to make the Out of School Care shortages go away:
First, School boards need to follow Section 85.1 of the BC School Act and make underutilized space available to licensed care providers.
Second, the Ministry of Health needs to issue a directive to health agencies across BC and their child care licensing officers to invite care providers to apply for a space exemption.
Third, the Ministry of Health needs to change the current Child Care Licensing Regulations so that kids attending their schools are treated as students and not as toddlers.
How To Make Underutilized Space Available
A good place to start is your local school board. They (in conjunction with a school’s principal) decide if/what space is going to be made available to licensed care providers.
Contact your school’s principal. Some principals are not even aware Out of School Care is even an issue in their school. They don’t have any dealings with the day care provider once the lease agreement is signed. It will be the principal that conveys to the school board what space is being underutilized. Remember, schools are mandated by section 85.1 to make this space available to care providers. You can walk around and see for yourself what space is being underutilized. Be prepared for a flurry of excuses.
In Vancouver, the Parent Advocacy Network is supposed to be helping parents with issues such as before/after school care. Let them know OSC is top of mind with you.
How To Create Space Exemptions For Existing Care Providers
The quickest way to increase the number of licensed OSC spaces is for the existing day care provider to apply to the Child Care Licensing Officer for an exemption to the 3.7 square meter per child space requirement. It is not clear exactly what the care provider must demonstrate to the licensing officer to receive an exemption, but this keeps getting put forward by the Ministry of Children and Family Development as a short term solution (exemptions are only temporary).
For this to be successful, the Ministry of Health would need to issue a directive to Licensing Officers that the Ministry wishes to encourage the granting of exemptions to help ease the OSC shortage.
This is an initiative that would likely have to come from the Minister of Health Adrian Dix. If you live in Minister Dix’s riding of Vancouver – Kingsway, you can reach him through his constituency office, otherwise contact the ministry.
How To Amend the Child Care Licensing Regulations
The current Child Care Licensing Regulations were not designed for Out of School Care. They are intended for younger children and as a result far fewer spaces are being made available as could be. An amendment is needed to the regulations to recognize the level of independence these students have.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development has a big role to play in making this happen and would need to work with the Ministry of Health. An initiative such as this would have to come from the highest levels including the Minister of Health, Minister of State for Childcare, Minister of Children and Family Development and the premier.