Text of press release:
Ten thousand more children will be eligible for child care subsidy and thousands of existing recipients will see their subsidies increase in 2005, Stan Hagen, Minister of Children and Family Development, announced today. "With this $33 million boost, we're creating a stable, sustainable child care system, and we're doing so in a responsible, accountable way," said Hagen. "We're making sure more families in need are eligible, and that they have a choice of child care providers in their communities." Effective Jan. 1, 2005, the income threshold at which families become eligible for child care subsidy will rise by $200, making thousands of families newly eligible. Other changes will provide new or enhanced subsidies &em; many of them at higher levels than ever before: - Families with children under six years of age in regulated care will see their subsidy rate rise. - Families with children who have special needs will see their income threshold rise by a further $100 and their supplement increase to $150 from $107. - For eligible lower-income parents, student loans will no longer be a factor in calculating subsidies. - Parents receiving partial subsidies will see an increase depending on family make-up and the type of care their children receive. "We recognize the challenge many B.C. families face in affording child care, and that's why we've targeted this funding to low-income families, children with special needs and eligible parents with student loans," said Hagen. "The province's renewed economic strength will allow us to sustain and improve on child care choices." "B.C. parents will welcome this announcement," said Wendy Cooper, Provincial Child Care Council chair. "I'm really pleased to see our government increasing access and boosting subsidy rates. It's going to make a positive difference to a lot of families." Currently, 27,000 B.C. children receive child care subsidy payments. People already receiving subsidies will automatically receive any payment increases for which they are eligible. Today's announcement, funded in part by the federal-provincial early learning and child care agreement, meets or exceeds previous child care subsidy levels, building upon subsidy enhancements announced in 2003 and the nearly $5 million in additional child care funding announced earlier this summer. Hagen also announced one-time funding of $4.45 million for service providers funded under the child care operating funding program. This transitional funding will assist providers through the transition to the subsidy changes. The Province is also providing one-time funding of $500,000 to establish a professional development fund.