The B.C. Child Care Subsidy changed my life. When I think about hard times as a parent, I don't think about sleepless nights, the first fever or all the times I've cleaned up my daughter's bodily fluids. Granted, these aren't highlights of parenting, but they aren't the hardest of times.
The hard times are making sure she has everything she needs. When it was time to look for child care, the daunting task cast a huge shadow on the blissful moments of my baby's first year.
Aside from wanting to make the best choice and find a place where she was happy, safe and taken care of, I needed to make sure I could afford it.
Nearly eight years ago, I was a journalist working at a community paper. I was passionate about my work and loved sharing stories at a community level. I was so devoted to my job that when my water broke early, I drove to the office on a Sunday, filed my photos and grabbed my notebook. I'd recently interviewed some kids heading to a swim meet and I knew they were eagerly waiting to see their photo in the paper. If I didn't finish the story, it wouldn't have run.
Being a community reporter was my dream job, but it wasn't my dream pay. When I was on my own, the salary worked for me, but throwing a kid into the mix wasn't helping me stretch my dollars.
Shortly after I became pregnant, the situation changed, and I knew I would be a full-time single mother with no support.
At the time, a full-time daycare spot for a one-year-old was about $1,000 per month. My rent wasn't even that much. I wasn't sure how I was going to make it happen, and maternity leave was a struggle financially.
Knowing the B.C. Child Care Subsidy program was available lightened the load on my shoulders when I was searching for a daycare. The same day I secured my daughter a spot in a centre, I filled out my subsidy papers and sent them in.
Within a couple of weeks, my letter came from the ministry. I still remember opening the envelope and learning I had qualified for subsidy.
I might not be the typical person who people might assume would use this program. I had graduated college and I had a career to return to.
It was a little over two years after I first received B.C. Child Care Subsidy that my salary increased with a new job and I was no longer eligible for the program. During those years, I depended on the help so I could return to work and take care of my family. Thanks to the child-care subsidy, I was able to build my career and create a better situation for me and my daughter.
Even with the subsidy, there were times when I would count quarters so I could purchase a jug of milk. I would keep a cautious eye on my gas tank and make sure I had enough to last until my next paycheque. The subsidy helped me get by, and I can't imagine what life would have been like without it.
Now my daughter is seven years old and I've been able to advance in my career and work on projects that I am passionate about. I work in affordable housing; I am in a field where I am helping others who need it.
When my salary increased and I lost my subsidy, I still didn't have extra money, but this time I was paying it all on my own.
My humble beginnings as a community reporter launched me into a career in communications. I am a huge supporter of the B.C. Child Care Subsidy, and I am sure there are thousands of stories like mine from parents who have been able to enhance their lives and their children's through this program.
Young parents and parents without post-secondary education are going to have an even tougher time. Providing the subsidy to single and low-income parents enables people to better their family situations.
When children see their parents work hard, it builds a foundation and sets an example.
The B.C. Child Care Subsidy isn't a handout, it's an investment in our community and our children.
-reprinted from Times Colonist