The most recent provincial budget has placed a priority on early care and learning. Selkirk College Early Child Care & Education Program is expected to be an important element of training the future. (Selkirk College)

Province’s agenda for child care welcomed by Selkirk College

An increased focus on child care in the provincial government’s latest budget bodes well.

CASTLEGAR — An increased focus on child care in the provincial government’s latest budget bodes well for those interested in a career that starts with the Selkirk College Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) Program.

In late-February, the new NDP government introduced its first provincial budget in Victoria which included a $136 million envelope of funding that will be used to enhance the quality of child care in British Columbia by funding additional capacity for early childhood education at post-secondary institutions. Though details about how those monies will be dispersed over the coming months have not been released, those involved at the educational level are buoyed by the inclusion.

“The government investment in early care and learning is historic,” says Taya Whitehead, an instructor in the Selkirk College ECCE Program. “We are excited for the momentum and the promise of accessible, affordable, quality child care for children, families and communities in our region.”

One of the college’s longest-running programs, ECCE began providing the education and skills to learners in 1979. Through the School of Health & Human Services, there are a number of routes students can take to achieve the required training, ranging from qualified assistant courses to a nine-month ECCE certificate to a two-year Human Services diploma.

The announcement of increased dollars to help expand training and professional development in the sector comes at a time when Selkirk College is already working on ways to provide more accessibility to those seeking a career in early care and learning.

“We live in a large region and the need for trained early childhood educators exists in every community that we serve,” says Whitehead. “Those wanting to break into this career are sometimes faced with challenges like transportation, existing employment, raising kids of their own and budget. We have several ways that allow those wanting to get the required education to do it through part-time studies and blended delivery through online and face-to-face.”

The announced funding is just one step in the NDP’s path towards universal childcare which is detailed in a 22-page report. Minister of Children & Family Development Katrine Conroy is a Selkirk College alumna who was a member of the very first ECCE Program offered at the Castlegar Campus. After the budget was released, the Kootenay West MLA told media that the funding is overdue.

“We all know that child care is expensive and hard to find, and for too long it’s been left to get worse,” she said during a speech at a Vancouver family centre. “That’s left too many parents feeling squeezed because they can’t afford to take time off and they can’t afford the child care.”

The government direction, coupled with existing bursary programs that help offset costs of attaining a post-secondary education, make this an opportune time for those considering a career in early care and learning to take a closer look.

“We prepare students for an exciting and rewarding career,” says Whitehead. “With the increased focus from the provincial government, the future for those who have dedicated their working lives to this career and those who want to get the education to be part of the sector has never been better.”

Selkirk College faculty are available to support those interested in the ECCE Program by answering questions and helping prospective students with an education plan to suit their particular situation.

Call 250.365.1271 for more information or to set up an appointment. You can also find more information online at selkirk.ca/ecce.

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