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Access to quality child care is a necessity for licensed practical nurse Tracy Maplesden-McLymont and his wife, both working in a clinic in South Okanagan, BC.
Two years ago, she discovered a preschool offering babysitting before and after school on campus.
It was a lifesaver.
“If we didn’t have this one of us would have to give up work – it would mean one less nurse in our clinic,” she said.
Their first son, Jacob, now in first grade, benefited from the Seamless Day Kindergarten pilot at Oliver Elementary, the school selected by the BC government as one of four sites for the program launched in 2019.
Program eases transition for children
Dubbed “Intuitive,” the program employs certified early childhood educators to provide before- and after-school care in kindergarten classes.
In 2021, BC’s Ministry of Education and Child Care will expand the program to an additional 21 schools across the province. This year, it is allocating $3 million to add 20 more schools to the program.
Education and Child Care Minister Rachna Singh announced the expansion at Oliver Elementary on Monday, highlighting the program’s success in providing busy parents peace of mind knowing their children are learning in a safe environment throughout the day and playing.
“It eases the transition [and] Provides continuity for our youngest learners,” Singh said.
Maplesden-McClymont, who is originally from Scotland, and his wife, who is from Texas, do not have family in the Okanagan to help with child care while they work.
Without the seamless day kindergarten program, he says finding alternative child care arrangements for autistic Jacob would be challenging.
Under the program, they can drop Jacob off at kindergarten at 7:15 a.m. and to pick him up at 5:30 in the afternoon—an extended period of time at the school that Maplesden-McClymont said allowed Jacobs to develop strong relationships with his teachers, early childhood educators, and fellow students. Is allowed.
“Building those social relationships is really important,” she said.
Childcare rates vary
Maplesden-McClymont says she pays $350 a month for babysitting at Jacob’s school.
In a statement emailed to CBC News, the Ministry of Education and Child Care says the amount charged under the program varies by school district.
The province has committed to spending $4.1 million in 2023-2024 to support the program and said school districts can apply for provincial funding to help defray child care fees.
Maplesden-McClymont says her younger sons, Kindi and Kellan, will start kindergarten under the program in September at Oliver Elementary.