Startup grants give B.C. families more child care options

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British Columbia families now have access to 426 new licensed in-home child care spaces that have been created through the Province’s new Childcare BC Start-Up Grant Program.

These licensed spaces are in addition to the 1,600 spaces that have been created up to now through the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, which was launched in June 2018, and the new spaces that will result from the $13.7-million Community Child Care Space Creation Program, which was launched in partnership with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities in September 2018.

“We’re thrilled that so many unlicensed providers are pursuing licensing,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Government has already approved more than 200 grant applications, and we are on track to exceed our initial space-creation targets for this program. This means that hundreds of children throughout the province will receive high-quality, licensed care through startup grants alone.”

Startup grants provide up to $4,500 in funding to support unlicensed child care providers to become licensed through their local health authority. Funds can cover the costs of becoming licensed, including (but not limited to):

  • training or application fees;
  • hiring replacement staff while taking a required course to become licensed; and/or
  • purchasing equipment for the child care facility.

Maria Meng recently received a startup grant, which allowed her and her sister Angela to open Springtree Montessori School in Burnaby, a newly licensed group child care centre that has space for eight children.

“I used to work in one of the Montessori schools in Burnaby, and my dream has always been to provide children with a comfortable, resourceful and playful environment,” said Meng. “Having two children of my own to look after put a pause on my career, and cost was another factor. Thanks to the startup grant, my sister and I were able to start our school and provide for families in Burnaby.”

When unlicensed child care providers become licensed, they are eligible to access other funding programs to help their businesses and the families they serve, including:

  • Child Care Operating Funding, which helps providers offset their day-to-day operating costs;
  • the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative, which provides additional operating funding so providers can reduce their parent fees by up to $350 a month, per child. To date, 95% of providers who have applied for the initiative have been approved to participate. This means that more than 52,400 licensed child care spaces are approved for fee reductions and tens of thousands of B.C. families have already saved a total of almost $80 million on the cost of child care; and
  • the Childcare BC Maintenance Fund, which helps providers repair or replace equipment or cover relocation costs in order to meet licensing requirements. In 2018-19, the Province has invested $2.2 million – five and a half times more than in 2017-18 – and has approved 711 applications for maintenance funding.

Families eligible for the Affordable Child Care Benefit receive a higher maximum benefit rate when accessing licensed versus unlicensed care. For example, a family using licensed in-home care for their infant may be eligible to receive up to $1,000 per month, whereas a family using unlicensed (Licence-Not-Required) care for their infant may receive only up to $438 per month.

“These spaces – in combination with the 1,600 spaces that have been funded through our New Spaces Fund in just six months – are part of the largest government investment in child care in B.C.’s history,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care and MLA for Burnaby-Lougheed. “Parents now have more options to find licensed child care for their kids, and we expect startup grants will create hundreds more spaces over the next few months, as even more child care providers complete the licensing process.”

Parents who want more information on how to access new spaces in their communities are encouraged to contact their local Child Care Resource and Referral Centre. Future updates on the grant program and the location of new spaces will be released as more child care providers complete the licensing process over the coming months.

Under Childcare BC, the Province is investing more than $1 billion in child care – over the first three years of its plan – to lay the foundation for a universal child care system. Investments in licensed providers complement the Province’s Childcare BC goals of improving quality and building more licensed spaces for B.C. families.

Quick Facts:

  • In B.C., unlicensed child care providers, also known as Licence-Not-Required child care providers, are limited to providing care to a maximum of two children or a sibling group (in addition to their own children) without being licensed through their local health authority.
  • Startup grants offer one-time funding to help existing unlicensed child care providers or prospective child care providers with the costs of becoming licensed Family or In-Home Multi-Age child care providers.
  • The amount of funding applicants may be eligible to receive depends on the type of licence they are pursuing:
    • Providers pursuing a Family Child Care licence can qualify for a maximum of $4,000 (an initial payment of $500 plus an additional $500 per space for up to the maximum allowable number of seven licensed spaces).
    • Providers pursuing an In-Home Multi-Age licence can qualify for a maximum of $4,500 (an initial payment of $500 plus an additional $500 per space for up to the maximum allowable number of eight licensed spaces).

Learn More:

To learn about the eligibility criteria for the Childcare BC Start-Up Grant program, visit:

To find licensed child care in B.C., visit the child care map online:

Parents who need information about choosing child care, or want a list of registered and licensed child care centres in their area, can get help through their local Child Care Resource and Referral Centre or by visiting:

Childcare BC New Spaces Fund:

To see a list of the child care providers who are participating in the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative, visit:

For more information on the Affordable Child Care Benefit, which is available to families with annual pre-tax household incomes of up to $111,000, visit:

Childcare BC factsheet: