BC School Act - Section 85.1
"It's all about [ S - P - A - C - E ] "
Like many parents, we have found it extremely difficult to find before/after school care for our son. We are on waiting lists at the only three care providers that serve his school. A 9-3pm school day simply does not marry well with a working parent’s schedule.
The authors of the BC School Act knew this.
Section 85.1 (Use of Board Property) states the following:
Use of board property
85.1 In this section:
(2) Subject to subsection (3), a board must establish a policy promoting the use of board property by licensed child care providers on business days between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
(3) The board must ensure that
(a) any use referred to in subsection (2) does not disrupt or otherwise interfere with the provision of educational activities, and
(b) subject to subsection (4), any revenue obtained by the board from the use referred to in subsection (2) is not more than the direct and indirect costs incurred and to be incurred by the board as a result of making that use available.
(4) Subsection (3) (b) does not apply to any arrangement in place at the time of the coming into force of this section under which board property is being made available to a licensed child care provider but does apply to any renewal or extension of that arrangement.
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The wording is very clear and the key phrase is, “… a board must establish a policy promoting the use of board property by licensed child care providers …”.
This is rarely happening. Very few parents know this is in the Act (in fact many care providers are unaware of 85.1).
Logistics is why few care providers offer off-site out of school care. They simply can’t get kids to/from schools twice a day. The authors of the BC School Act knew this and that is why they mandated school boards to make space available in schools for before/after school care providers.
The authors of the Act realized it only made sense that school facilities would be used to provide before/after school care. After all, the kids are already there!
NOTE, the authors didn’t suggest that school boards would provide the actual care, just access to the existing facility. That is an important distinction to remember. No school board money is required to build a multi-purpose facility or provide staffing. You are just using the existing facility. The heat is already on, the lights are already on. Child care staffing is provided by the licensed care provider. Parents are paying the care provider for the staff. The Act makes it clear in subsection (3) that any “direct and indirect” facility costs are allocated to the care providers. The net cost to the school board is zero.
So, the shortage of Out of School care spaces is not about funding. It is all about space and a school board’s willingness to follow the Act and provide that space. Put simply, if a school can serve hundreds of kids during the day, then why can’t that same school serve a mere fraction of those same kids for an hour or two before and after school? The answer is, it can.
School boards need to communicate to elementary school principals that finding additional space for Out of School Care in their schools is a priority.