Universal Early Learning and Child Care
Early learning and child care is central to YWCA Metro Vancouver's mission of providing better futures for women and their families. We have consistently advocated for public investment to build a national early learning and care system that is accessible for all children and this will continue to be our primary advocacy focus.
In 2004, we renewed our historic commitment by establishing the following goal: Advance the development of a universal child care system, based on research and evidence and in collaboration with pan-Canadian efforts, in order to:
- support the healthy development of children
- build a strong economy, and
- achieve women’s equality
Since then, we have worked to establish YWCA Metro Vancouver as a credible, leading voice on this complex issue. We implemented a three-part strategy of government relations, business engagement and public education; we developed information materials and profiled our position in YWCA's Contact newsletter and on our website; and we engaged a network of supporters through our “child care ambassadors” program. We worked with UBC HELP to conduct a literature review on the economic benefit/cost of universal child care, concluding that the benefits outweigh the costs. With YWCA Canada, we costed Vancouver’s vision for a comprehensive early learning and care system, and demonstrated a 2:1 return on investment in quality programs.
When significant federal investment in an early learning and child care system appeared likely, we directed our advocacy efforts to ensuring evidence-based investment and accountability for these public funds. We were disappointed when the federal government moved to a different kind of investment, canceling bilateral transfer agreements and implementing a taxable direct payment of $1,200 a year per child. While this income support has some value, it will not produce the benefits of direct investment in a system of quality child care options.
At present, we believe the best approach for advancing our early learning and child care vision is through the business community. The growing importance of women’s participation in the economy has created an important opportunity to educate employers who are feeling the impact of the current labour shortage and are concerned about attracting and retaining female employees. We will put special focus on engaging business and community leaders in supporting our advocacy work. As well, we will continue to collaborate with pan-Canadian advocacy efforts and UBC HELP, and build on our child care ambassadors initiative.
The YWCA knows that a long-term commitment is required to realize our vision of a universal early learning and child care system for Canada. We will continue to carry the message that a universal child care system – offering a range of options – is the key to leveling the field for all women and children. It is also fundamental to positioning Canada as a leader in the global knowledge-based economy. The benefits are thoroughly researched – greater employability for all parents, higher income earned, higher taxes paid, enhanced child development and lower costs of welfare and social services.
YWCA Metro Vancouver operates a range of early learning and child care centres to serve the needs of families. Learn more about YWCA Early Learning and Child Care.