VERNON – Families in the Okanagan will have access to nearly 450 new licensed child care spaces as part of the Province’s ongoing commitment to increasing access to child care through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

“Good, affordable child care gives kids a head start on learning and gives parents more options when raising their families,” said Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee. “I remember the challenges I faced as a single mother raising my kids and struggling to find child care. I truly appreciate how much it can change things for a family. These hundreds of new spaces across the Okanagan will give other parents the ability to work or go back to school and upgrade their careers, while their kids benefit from a safe, healthy and educational environment.”

The Childcare BC New Spaces Fund is supporting eight projects to create 448 new licensed child care spaces in Kelowna, Lake Country, Penticton and Vernon. These spaces are part of the fastest creation of child care spaces in B.C.’s history and were part of the September 2020 milestone that marked more than 20,000 new spaces funded throughout the province in just over two years.

“These new child care spaces for families in the Okanagan are bringing us one step closer to delivering the quality, affordable and inclusive child care that all B.C. families deserve,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “Child care for families is key to B.C.’s economic recovery, and these new spaces will make it easier for parents, especially mothers who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, to return to work or school.”

Families will be able to access new child care spaces in the following communities: * Kelowna (37 spaces), * Lake Country (81 spaces), * Penticton (77 spaces) and * Vernon (253 spaces)

“We are pleased to be collaborating with the City of Penticton to create new child care spaces,” said Tanya Behardien, executive director, OneSky Community Resources Society. “We are excited about the new purpose-built space and our ability to help more families have access to quality, affordable and inclusive child care. Access to child care reduces barriers and can help to make educational pursuits or workforce participation a reality.”

An additional 4,110 spaces, funded through the 2017 Budget Update and the Early Learning and Child Care agreement with the Government of Canada, takes the total number of new, licensed spaces funded in B.C. to more than 24,500 since July 2017.