The government of B.C. is working toward providing funding to low-income families for everything from school supplies to food programs.
Through a wide variety of programming offered each year, the provincial government contributes close to $1 billion to help families on income and disability assistance with respect to going back to school — it is estimated this supplement benefits nearly 15,000 families, including 24,000 children.
“Going back to school is always an exciting time for students but it can be expensive for families,” said Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation in a recent press release. “That’s where the School Start-up Supplement comes in, providing extra funds for families on income and disability assistance, to help them buy the school supplies that they need.”
In addition, there is funding provided to school districts which will total over $5 billion this year.
“With this kind of support for low-income families this school year, parents and students can focus on achievement in the classroom,” said Mike Bernier, Minister of Education in the press release. “This funding makes sure finances aren’t a barrier to academic success.”
The CommunityLINK program provides more than $51 million annually. It is geared toward helping provide breakfast and lunch programs to vulnerable students as well as school-based support workers and counselling for students in need.
To make childcare more affordable for families, government introduced the B.C. Early Childhood Tax Benefit in April 2015. The benefit will provide $146 million annually to approximately 180,000 families with children under the age of six years (up to $660 a year per child). To apply for the benefit, parents must keep their income tax filing up to date, even if they have no income to report.
“With kids going back to school, we know that parents are looking for quality before- and after-school care,” said Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development in a recent press release. “That’s why we provide childcare subsidies up to $750 per month to help low-income families obtain the best possible care for their children.”
The government provides $10.4 million in annual funding to school districts to operate 326 StrongStart BC programs, which support more than 385 communities throughout the province deal with early learning development, including language, physical, cognitive, social and emotional areas.