First Call’s budget submission to the provincial Finance Committee for the 2018 budget makes 23 specific recommendations covering early childhood, public education, poverty reduction, supports and services for vulnerable children, youth and families and post-secondary education. Some highlights are:
- Redesign the BC Early Childhood Tax Benefit into a BC Child Benefit that covers children under 18, and increasing the maximum benefit to $1,320 per child per year.
- Address the child care crisis for parents by starting to implement the $10-a-Day Plan and improve access to quality early childhood development and care programs for Indigenous children both on- and off-reserve.
- Eliminate wait times for young children with developmental challenges who need access to assessments and therapies.
- Ensure that the Ministry of Children and Family Development has sufficient resources to support more services to keep children at home with their families when it can be made safe to do so, and to strengthen the system of guardianship workers, foster parents and other caregivers when it is not.
- Develop seamless financial, educational and relational supports for youth transitioning out of government care at age 19 and offer the extension of foster care to youth up to the age of 25.
- Continue to restore funding to the K-12 public school system—beyond more teachers, provide funding and resources to support the early identification, designation and appropriate educational program for students with special needs.
- Reduce post-secondary tuition fees, re-introduce a robust needs-based provincial grant program and provide interest free student loans.
None of us get a second chance at childhood. Supporting healthy child development and preventing harm to children and youth are urgent responsibilities requiring our attention in every budget and every policy decision.
Our coalition members are looking forward to supporting government efforts to make upstream investments that will dramatically reduce the preventable risks and vulnerabilities currently facing too many children and youth and help all young people to reach their full potential.
Read First Call’s full budget submission here.