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Richmond lauded for child care strategy

By Don Fennell

Published 10:31 PDT, Fri October 4, 2019

Last Updated: 12:37 PDT, Mon October 7, 2019

Richmond’s vision has earned the city another major award. 

This time, from the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

At its annual convention last week in Vancouver, the City of Richmond was recognized with a community excellence award as a local government leading the way with vision, creativity and innovation. Specifically, Richmond was lauded for Excellence in Governance for its 2017-2022 Child Care Needs Assessment and Strategy.

Previous child care needs assessments, in 1995, 2001 and 2009 helped guide the city’s childcare action—a vision that began in 1991. In 2016, the city conducted a comprehensive analysis of its child care needs to forecast the next five year’s need. Community engagement was further used to develop a strategy for five years.

“Winning the UBCM award…emphasizes our priority goal and commitment to develop short-term and long-term comprehensive child care services,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “The strategy is a critical and innovative tool to guide and provide a framework for quality child care and a network of related services.”

A 2018 update provided further insight into the status of child care in the city and its stakeholders.

Significant progress

“The City of Richmond is a municipal leader in fostering the conditions necessary for expanding and enhancing child care choices for Richmond’s resident and employee populations,” the report says. “The city recognizes that child care is critically important to its residents, is an essential need for working parents, and supports parents who are pursuing their education. A key goal of the city’s commitment to child care is to promote the establishment and ongoing maintenance of a comprehensive child care system.”

The report says since there has been “significant” progress in addressing the short term and ongoing actions.

City staff is currently reviewing all funding initiatives to determine which, if any, may be relevant to Richmond to address some of the key challenges and priorities identified in the 2017-2022 strategy. Staff will continue to monitor future funding opportunities to understand potential opportunities to partner with other organizations and create new child care spaces.

Addressing future needs

In December 2018 there were 6,439 licensed child care spaces, offering about 640 more child care spaces than in 2016. The number of licensed child care spaces has continued to increase each year since 1995—when there were 2,436 licensed child care spaces in the city.

Between 2016 and 2018, the number of spaces in group care, in-home multi-age care and group care has increased significantly. However, the number of licensed school-age care spaces has not kept up. There is a continuing the shortage of school age care spaces in Richmond.

To accommodate the growing need due to population increases, three new city-owned child care facilities have opened since July 2017. In September 2017, Willow Early Care and Learning Centre opened providing 37 child care spaces in the City Centre community centre. In the Summer of 2018, Gardens Children’s Centre and SeaSong Child Care Centre opened, providing 37 spaces at each city-owned facility.

The city has also secured a new early childhood development hub in the city centre planning area which will provided up to 87 new spaces, as well as child and family development programs and services.

An additional three facilities secured prior to 2017 will provide a further 175 licensed child care spaces in the next few years, the report says.

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