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Vancouver launches childcare referral system for essential workers

The City of Vancouver Friday launched temporary emergency childcare for essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis.
The City of Vancouver has launched a temporary emergency childcare referral system for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo Getty Images

The City of Vancouver Friday launched temporary emergency childcare for essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

The referral system will connect essential service workers, who meet the program’s criteria, with licensed childcare providers that are open and available for childcare.

“While the Provincial Health Officer has advised that families should keep children home if possible, we understood there was a need to connect essential workers required on the front lines of the COVID-19 response with access to temporary childcare,” Sandra Singh, the city’s general manager of arts, culture and community services. “Our goal with this initiative is to help facilitate childcare to those who need it most during the public health emergency.”

The Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre will give parents and guardians a referral to temporary childcare for children aged 0 to 12 years, including those with special needs, if they:

  • Are providing essential services, as defined by the province,
  • Live or work in Vancouver,
  • Have no appropriate childcare alternatives.

Priority will be given to children whose parents or guardians work as front-line workers in public health and health services, social services, law enforcement, first responders and emergency response.

Receiving a referral does not guarantee a spot.

How to access the temporary emergency childcare referral system:

  • Parents or guardians of children ages 0 to 12 who are eligible, should submit the Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre (WCCRC)online request form.
  • Parents or guardians will then receive an email from WCCRC with a list of operators to contact.
  • Program Capacity: The number of spaces made available for emergency childcare will be at the discretion of each operator, within their licensed capacity and under health protocols.
  • Hours of operation: Hours of operation vary by operator. Many are open Monday to Friday, approximately 7:30am – 6:00pm. Some may offer extended and weekend hours. 
  • Fees: To be paid to the operator directly, at a rate defined by the operator. The WCCRC can help families in need of financial support to access BC’s Affordable Child Care Benefit, if needed.
  • Timing: The Temporary Emergency Childcare for Essential Workers initiative will be in place as long as the Provincial Health Officer is advising that all parents who can, should care for their children at home, and that childcare services can and must be provided for those families whose parents work in critical roles. 
  • Health & Safety: Childcare operators have been adjusting the way they operate in response to COVID-19 and will continue to do so with the guidance of the Provincial Health Officer and support from the licensing team at Vancouver Coastal Health.