Child Care

Topic submitted by Tom for Vancouver ChangCamp 2011

Child care is at at the heart of Vancouver. Without loving child care that meets the needs of children and families, the city’s economy could not function and our children would neither survive nor thrive.

This goes beyond issues related to the provision of child care programs, such as expanding spaces at daycare centres and or supporting the provision of care through nannies and family child care providers. In fact, anyone who cares for a child is a child care worker. Most child care is actually unpaid work, as most care is provided by moms, dads, grandparents, neighbours, and friends. And this work is not only unpaid, but it’s also unrecognized and unsupported.

As members of the community, children depend on others to care for them. And as members of the community children also experience the same pressures faced by many adults in the city. This issues include sky-rockecting housing prices, longer and more tiresome commutes, a decline in social spending, increases in economic insecurity, and widening income inequality.

While most children may not recognize or directly face these pressures, children do feel the pressures in the form of less time with care providers, in the lack of quality child care options for families, in stress, in a lack of supports, and in missed educational experiences.

Child care as a city is about how we choose to relate to the youngest members of our community. A whole range of issues intersect with child care, from the future of the planet, to the realization of full potential through early education programs, to pressures and insecurities placed on families. Will we treat children as invisible and silenced members of our community, or recognize and respect children as equally worthy members of the community?

Additionally, child care connects with issues involving adults – especially in terms of gender equity and respect for workers. Lack of affordable, accessible and high quality child care creates barriers for women trying to make ends meet. The low-wage workforce of daycare providers, early childhood educators, nannies, and family care providers is almost entirely composed of immigrant women, who are excluded from economic opportunity in large part because the work they do is considered as “women’s work” and therefore not worthy of adequate or fair wages and resources.

So what are we, as city, prepared to do together with children? Are we prepared to recognize children as members of the community, to include and involve children in decisions that affect children’s lives? Are we prepared to prioritize children’s well-being? Are we going to provide supports for families and ensure that all child care workers are treated with the respect they deserve?

Why it matters

Why does technology matter?

  • Extends our reach – time and space
  • The audience is there, and people are talking
  • We can tell stories that spread
  • We can aggregate, sort and search input and information like never before
  • We can build community

Challenges

  • Digital divide is real – skills as well as access
  • Technology helps build buzz – but it’s true deliberative power is limited
  • Online engagement has to be carefully positioned – it has to make sense as a channel
  • Data and records management

Nonprofits and Government

Coat of arms of City of Vancouver
Image via Wikipedia

Nonprofits have a strained relationship with government. It seems like we’re always yelling at them to open up their data. “Release the fisheries report!” “Publish the grizzly mortality counts!”

Wouldn’t it be great if nonprofits, community activists, policy wonks and government all got into a room and discussed our differences? What if government data defaulted to open, rather than closed?

Sounds kumbayah? Well, it isn’t. In fact, it happened last year. Community activists and nonprofits sat down with representatives from the provincial and municipal government (including Vancouver’s Mayor and BC’s Director of Citizen Engagement). And amazing things came from it, like:

Join me for Vancouver ChangeCamp 2010
When: Saturday, June 12. 8:30 – 5:00pm.
Where: W2 Storyeum, 151 Cordova W., Vancouver BC

Ticket are $20. RSVP at http://vanchangecamp.eventbrite.com/

What is Vancouver ChangeCamp?
Vancouver ChangeCamp is a participatory web-enabled face-to-face event that brings together citizens, technologists, designers, academics, social entrepreneurs, policy wonks, political players, change-makers and government employees to answer these questions:

  • How can we help government become more open and responsive?
  • How do we as citizens organize to get better outcomes ourselves?

ChangeCamp addresses the demand for a renewed relationship among citizens and government. We seek to create connections, knowledge, tools and policies that drive transparency, civic engagement and democratic empowerment.

The conference will be participant-driven, with the agenda created collaboratively at the start of the event, allowing participants to share their experiences and expertise.

When: Saturday, June 12. 8:30 – 5:00pm.
Where: W2 Storyeum, 151 Cordova W., Vancouver BC

Ticket are $20. RSVP at http://vanchangecamp.eventbrite.com/