Minister of State of Child Care Katrina Chen spoke with Bumblees and Butterflies owner Joanne Legros and one of the daycare’s parents during her visit to Terrace last May. (Brittany Gervais/Terrace Standard)

B.C. expands bursary program to attract early childhood educators

A $1.9-million investment through B.C.’s Early Learning and Child Care Agreement made Friday

British Columbia is expanding the number of bursaries offered to early childhood educators as it further commits to the goal of creating a universal, provincewide child-care system.

A $1.9-million investment through B.C.’s Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the federal government will pay for the additional financial awards.

The extra funding adds to the roughly 1,100 bursaries and $10 million in funding approved last fall.

A news release from the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training says the investment is part of the recruitment and retention strategy for educators in early care and learning.

It offers increased supports for the child-care sector, including a $1 per hour wage enhancement for eligible early childhood educators and enhanced bursaries for students hoping to enter the field.

READ MORE: Bursary, pay increases coming for B.C. early childhood educators

Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care, says the profession was neglected for years so B.C. has a “lot of catching up to do.”

“We need to invest heavily in the early childhood education sector to keep up with the pent up demand for quality child care throughout the province,” Chen says in a news release.

The province is also spending $1.8 million to support an evaluation of its early care and learning strategy for the child-care sector.

Information collected will be used to support ongoing improvements aimed at attracting and keeping child-care workers, the release says.

The B.C. government and BC Green party caucus have set early childhood education as a shared priority and the province has pledged to invest more than $1.3 billion in child care over four years to lay the foundation for a universal child care system, the ministries say.

The Canadian Press

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