Boost for childcare

The provincial government is ponying up to train a dozen early childhood educator assistants in the Okanagan.

Shane Simpson, B.C.’s Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, made the announcement Friday in Kelowna, committing $123,000 to pay for on-the-job training.

The program will see 12 people trained at local childcare institutions. Simpson said that, by the end of a relatively short training period, the participants will be ready to enter a new career in childcare.

This is the second year in a row the province is funding the training. Simpson noted every participant from last year’s program is working in the field.

The program was created by the YMCA of the Okanagan, in response to “an urgent need for qualified assistants to work alongside early childhood educators.”

The Okanagan Boys and Girls Club’s Jeremy Welder says finding qualified staff to work in licensed childcare facilities is his organization’s “greatest challenge right now.”

“Everybody is hiring, so our childcare sector is not immune to that challenge of finding qualified staff,” Welder said at the announcement. “This is even more pronounced in our early years programs.”

The government has committed to support the creation of 3,800 new licensed childcare spaces across the province, and Simpson said the 2018 budget will reflect its childcare priorities.

“Early childhood educators and assistants are a critical resource, and we need to build that resource as we build the new childcare system in British Columbia,” he said.

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