Understanding the Role of Child Care on the Health and Wellbeing of Low-Income Lone Mothers in British Columbia
Making Mothers Matter project is a three-year participatory action research (PAR) project being conducted through a partnership with the University of British Columbia and Dr. Lea Caragata, UBC School of Social Work. Our aim is to understand how BC's new child care affordability policies and $10aDay child care system impact the health and well-being of marginalized mothers living below the poverty line.
Lack of child care access in BC remains a key issue impacting low-income families.
When the Centre for Family Equity (then known as the Single Mothers' Alliance) was founded in 2014, we heard firsthand about the lack of access to affordable and quality child care among low-income mothers in British Columbia.
The consequences were dire - children in unsafe spaces, parents unable to work, and sky-high monthly fees completely out of reach for low-income mothers.
Our organization joined the growing movement for a $10aDay child care system in BC.
A New System for BC
In 2018, much collective advocacy paid off when the government committed to a 10-year plan to build a universal child care system for the province. The federal government also recently committed to a multi-billion investment to fund a $10aDay child care system in every province in Canada by 2026.
Fast forward to today, and there are now 12,729 spaces at $10 a Day ChildcareBC Centres in BC, with the goal of doubling that number. However, building a whole $10aDay child care system in BC is no small feat. Advocates and community stakeholders must remain active in the systems-building phase to ensure we build equitable systems that work for all.
We must ensure we build a system that is truly universally accessible, equitable, and meets the needs of the diversity of families in BC.
Making Mothers Matter engages low-income lone mothers living below the poverty line in BC with children under six accessing a ChildCareBC centre. We conducted research with mothers who are accessing the Affordable Child Care Benefit, a benefit for the poorest families accessing ChildCareBC centres, and those who are not. We want to find out how our reduced-fee and universally accessible child care policies are impacting the health and well-being of these low-income lone mothers.
Our participatory action research model establishes a structure for ongoing input to ensure our system meets the needs of low-income lone mothers and low-income families.
The Making Mothers Matter project is led by seven dynamic and committed lone-mother peer researchers located around the province. They formed a research committee and trained in data collection, interview skills, and more, carrying out successful data collection through 2022. Our peer researchers have stuck with the project through thick and thin, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Results: Sharing Knowledge, Moving to Action
In September 2022, the project team gathered for a productive research retreat. We are now preparing our research report to be released in spring 2023, followed by knowledge mobilization to the government and the public.
For more information about Making Mothers Matter, please contact Zeynya S. Alemayehu, Research & Policy Lead: [email protected].
We express our gratitude to the Vancouver Foundation for their generous funding for Making Mothers Matter.