May 7, 2019 - 9:30am
Many families with young children in British Columbia struggle to find quality childcare.
In Powell River, there are only 28 licensed spaces for children 36 months and younger, and those spaces are not always filled to capacity due to the inability to hire qualified staff. To support the growing demand for childcare, Vancouver Island University is expanding its Early Childhood Education and Care program to the Powell River campus.
“It has been a major crisis in our community,” says Alison Taplay, VIU PR Campus Human Services Coordinator. “With ferry only access, families cannot seek childcare options in neighboring communities.”
“Currently, family members are unable to work due to no access to childcare or children participate in several preschools augmented by private care in order to meet childcare needs,” says Taplay. “By training more qualified ECEC workers in Powell River, we will be making a huge difference in the lives of young families and children in this community.”
The 25-student cohort of the new ECEC certificate program will begin in September 2019 and finish in December 2020.
“We are structuring the program in a way that makes it accessible for professionals already working in the field,” says Sheila Grieve, VIU Chair of the ECEC program. The program will offer classes in the evenings, weekends, and sometimes during the week, with the option of taking weekday classes online if students are not able to attend in-person.
To make the program even more accessible the BC government is offering significant funding opportunities to students. Through the provincial organization ECEBC, students are eligible to receive up to $4,000 in funding per school semester, and students who are already working in childcare centers are eligible to receive an additional $1,000 due to any lost wages during their practicum experience as practicum courses are only offered during the weekday.
“The government has made it a priority to increase daycare seats and educate ECE practitioners to improve the quality of care for children and to support ECE practitioners once they are in the field,” says Grieve. “Every one of our students that applied this year got some funding towards their courses.”
VIU has collaborated closely with the local ECEC community, the City of Powell River’s Municipal Council, the Tla’amin Nation and School District 47 to re-establish an ECEC delivery. The regional and municipal government is currently developing The Community Child Care Planning Program to support new ECEC workers in the community and expand the capacity for more childcare spaces available for families.
The ECEC program is open to dual-credit students as well as international learners. Graduates of the certificate program can transfer into the diploma program at VIU part or full-time at the Nanaimo campus, or transfer their university credits to complete other diplomas or degrees in the future.
Rae-Anne Guenther, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University
Tags: Teaching and Learning