A recently completed plan will help the Cowichan Valley Regional District determine the direction for child care services over the next 10 years.
The Cowichan Region Child Care Plan found that the area currently has a 22 per cent coverage rate for children ages 0-12, meaning there are 22 child care spaces available for every 100 children in that age group. Space in schools was not factored in.
Cost and the availability of child care spaces are the main concerns for families in the Cowichan Valley, and approximately one half of the families reported those to be barriers to them receiving their preferred choice of child care.
“We now anticipate that one in five families in the Cowichan region have unmet needs and aggressive increases in coverage rates are required to respond to existing demand,” said CVRD general manager of community services John Elzinga. “With the child care space-creation targets recommended in this plan, we now have a solid understanding how and where our local and regional governments can support the creation of new child care programs and centres to meet the current and future shortfall.”
The plan has several recommendations, including increasing coverage rates and creating new child care sites, improving access to child care by public transit, extended and non-traditional hours to accommodate shift work, promotion of child care as a career and improved access to training, greater cultural diversity in child care centres, and increased resources for children with extra support needs.
The Cowichan Region Child Care Plan was created by the CVRD along with the Municipality of North Cowichan and the City of Duncan, and the towns of Ladysmith and Lake Cowichan.