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School district drafting child care policy

·2 min read

Development of a school district child care policy is intended to communicate Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ commitment to child care on its sites, NLPS staff told the Sounder.

The district’s board of trustees approved a motion at their May 26 board meeting to have staff develop a child care policy as well as update an administrative procedure that, among other changes, reflects a requirement for child care programs to be delivered by early childhood educators using the B.C Early Learning Framework, and in a manner that fosters Indigenous reconciliation.

Currently, 26 child care programs run by external providers operate on NLPS sites ranging from infants and toddler, three to five years, preschool, school-aged and group multi-age. The district is currently building care programs at Forest Park Elementary, Chase River Elementary and Ladysmith Primary and has received funding for Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh and Rock City Elementary.

The district said it is open to applying for funding to run programs out of Gabriola Elementary, but needs to ensure it has a provider in place as well as build space, if necessary. Currently, the district only receives funding from the province for initial construction and must recoup all costs for having onsite child care.

NLPS has four recommendations in its 2021-31 long-range facilities plan that are related to child care, including one to create a strategy to expand child care to to all sites in NLPS for ages 0-5 years as well as before- and after-school care with the goal of providing a “seamless” transition for families and to connect pre-K children to schools.

In the future, the district intends to explore having internal staff provide some services at new sites, particularly before- and after-school care.

Last year, the province updated the School Act, requiring school boards to prioritize spaces not in use for K-12 students as child care space and encouraging school boards to adopt inclusive child care policies.

On June 10, the province announced it added two new licensing categories to the provincial child care licensing regulation, which, along with the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, establishes the minimum health and safety requirements for licensed child care providers. The new school age care on school grounds category exempts child care providers from requirements related to the minimum amount of usable floor space, washroom facilities and outdoor play areas “because schools are already designed to be safe for children,” a press release from the province says.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

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