Child's making clay figures. (Sharon McCutcheon, Pexels.com)
Childcare has become a crisis in the qathet Regional District.
That’s one of the findings in the region-wide Childcare Planning Project report conducted by the Regional Social Planning initiative.
According to the report, licensed childcare spaces are only available for an estimated 15.3 per cent, or 429 of the 2,800 children aged zero to 12 in the region.
It found that an additional 921 childcare spaces and 13 more qualified early childhood educators are needed, with 429 childcare spaces currently available, and up to 180 children are on waitlists for care.
Of the parents/guardians surveyed, 41 per cent rely on informal solutions to their childcare challenges.
They say they need more flexibility, affordability, accessibility and choice.
Families face cost and scheduling difficulties and infant-toddler spaces are very limited, with city-based parents wanting child care spaces near workplaces and schools.
In more rural areas, parents want spaces near where they live.
The report found that due to the lack of childcare spaces, children throughout the region are slightly more vulnerable than the provincial average and are becoming increasingly vulnerable over time.
It also found that the COVID-19 pandemic has further impacted the situation, making the demand for childcare more pressing and challenging.
Currently, the Government of BC is taking additional steps to assist with childcare information and supports during the pandemic.
The region first tackled the study in 2019, with the final report reflecting what gaps exist with childcare today and the framework needed to achieve future success over the next ten years.
In March of this year, the report was presented to both the qathet Regional District and the City of Powell River, as joint partners in funding the report.
The Tla’amin Nation was also involved in the project through the Powell River Regional Social Planning Program.