The Proudly Surrey slate has announced that, if elected, future community schools would include permanent single-use toddler and infant care facilities as well as “swing space” for after- and before-school care.
The Proudly Surrey slate, according to a news release Thursday (Sept. 20), has modified its child-care policy to offer a “proactive plan for dealing with the massive deficit in child care spaces from which Surrey continues to suffer” following an announcement from provincial Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy on Sept. 11.
The B.C. government said municipalities and regional districts would be able to access nearly $17 million in funding “to plan and build licensed child care spaces that will best meet the needs of local families.”
Municipal and regional governments will be eligible for up to $1 million per project through the new Community Child Care Space Creation Program. The provincial news release notes that priority will be given to “projects that build spaces that serve infants and toddlers, offer care outside of regular business hours, are operated by a public body or non-profit, and/or benefit under-served populations.”
Diana Ng, a Proudly Surrey school trustee candidate, said the slate’s plan “has consistently been to make maximum use of school board property, not just when it comes to providing after- and before-school care to enrolled students but also infant and toddler care.”
“Due to what some might call a full-blown community centre crisis in Surrey, we have already pledged that every new school built for the foreseeable future will be a community school, a joint venture between School Board and Council, pooling our resources to provide better, more diverse school spaces that also serve seniors and other community members, with shared library and athletics facilities,” Ng said.
In the news release from Proudly Surrey, it states that community schools constructed with the slate would include: permanent, single-use toddler and infant care facilities; purpose-built “swing space” for after- and before-school care constructed adjacent to single-use toddler and infant-care areas designed for easy switching of use between school-time instruction and child care outside of school hours; and a regularization policy, to be administered by the Regularization Office (announced in August by Stuart Parker who is running for council) to assist part-time community centre and school staff in combining hours to obtain full-time employment in a community school facility
Ng said the Regularization Office would be part of city hall and its main focus “is to deal with employment and working condition of employees and contract workers, not currently covered by a collective agreement.”
“In the case of the child-care announcement, the regularization office will ensure that any overlap in school district work and community centre work is monitored by the office with the dual aim to ensure that the existing collective agreements are adhered to and that more full-time work for current part-time employees can be achieved,” she said.
Ng’s council running-mate, Felix Kongyuy, said Proudly Surrey recognizes that not every child-care space in Surrey will be part of a community school in the short term, but he added that it is important to the slate that any for-profit or non-profit child-care program “not use the loophole B.C. government has left, allowing private providers to turn away kids benefiting from provincial childcare subsidies.”
“Proudly Surrey will not permit any provider that does this to rent space from the city or school board. That’s just an extension of our general youth access policy: if you do not welcome low-income kids, we don’t welcome you.”