Caregivers must apply for teachers strike reimbursement

Government offered $40 per day for each qualifying student

Students are back in the classroom and parents now have some free time, but what about the costs incurred with kids out of school for an extra three weeks?

Now that the summer-long teachers’ strike is over, the province is offering parents $40 per day that children were out of class through the Temporary Education Support for Parents program, but parents need to apply for the payment.

Rebecca McDonnell, president of the School District 20 Parent Advisory Council, believes that parents who haven’t already signed up, definitely should.

“You might as well,” she said. “The government figures that 80 per cent of parents have already registered, so I feel like if you haven’t, you should. The money doesn’t go back to schools. Otherwise, it is just going to stay in government coffers.”

McDonnell says, in her experience, the $40 per day, per child should be enough to cover the cost of having kids at home or in daycare for almost an extra month, especially in this area.

“We are quite fortunate in the Kootenays that $40 a day does cover daycare,” she said.

“It probably doesn’t in the Lower Mainland, but it certainly does in the Kootenays. With the camps and daycare opportunities that were offered by different agencies, I think anybody who needed care and it was available, the $40 covers that. We are fortunate with where we live in that aspect.”

Students were out of the classroom for 13 school days this year before a deal between the teachers and the government was reached. When the math is done, each student who qualifies (a student in the public school system and aged 12 and under) will mean a cheque for $520 per child.

The Ministry of Education expects payment cheques to be in parents’ mailboxes by the end of October.

It isn’t just parents who can apply for the payment, but all persons considered primary caregivers to a child in the B.C. public school system, such as step-parents, legal guardians, foster parents, host parents for international students, adoptive parents and caregivers under temporary custody arrangements.

The government cheque won’t affect any other social assistance a parent or guardian may be receiving,  is non-taxable and can be left off an income tax return.

Now that students are back in the classrooms, McDonnell says that parents are telling her that they are happy to have their kids back in school, but there is an unsettled feeling in the air.

“I was at the school (on Monday) and I got a strange vibe,” she said. “It is difficult to say, but I think that the parent sentiment is mirroring that of the teachers. They are really happy to be back, but we are unsure of how beneficial the whole thing has been. There is so much instruction time that we are not getting back, but the students are where they need to be.”

For parents, one benefit of the strike, according to McDonnell, is a better understanding of the struggle teachers go through every year.

“I think that now every parent is aware of funding deficits to our education system, whereas before, it was really only a few of us that were fighting at the budgetary table,” she said. “We saw the cuts year after year and now I think that every one and every parent is aware of it. Knowledge is power and if everybody now has this information, I feel that we are in a stronger position.”

To apply for the Temporary Education Support program or to find out if your child qualifies, visit bcparentinfo.ca and click the yellow link, or for a paper copy of the application form, call 1 -877-387-3332.