Saba hosted a work meeting on Wednesday and Thursday to further prepare for the start of the BES(t) 4 Kids day care and after school care program for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba in January 2019.
Representatives of the Public Entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, and of the Ministries of Education, Culture and Science OCW, of Social Affairs and Employment SZW and Public Health, Welfare and Sports VWS gathered at the Queen’s Gardens in The Bottom to continue preparations on a civil service level in anticipation of the decision-taking by the Public Entities and the Dutch Government.
A multi-annual total program plan is being drafted, which will include a general part that addresses the joint actions and the individual plans per island and the central government describing the steps that the Dutch Government and the three Public Entities have to take in order to start the BES(t) 4 Kids program. It is a uniform plan, but it will address the specific needs of the islands. “This is a joint exercise and we are equal partners in this program,” said one of the participants of the two-day meeting.
During the meeting in Saba, the funding for BES(t) 4 Kids was also discussed. The Ministry of SZW is structurally making 3 million euros available for child care per 2019. These funds will be divided over the three islands. This was the third work meeting to prepare the BES(t) 4 Kids program. The first took place in Bonaire in June 2018, followed by a second meeting in St. Eustatius in October 2018.
Stakeholders are being involved in the process and consultations have been held with the administrators of childcare, after school care and education institutions on all three islands to receive feedback.
The BES(t) 4 Kids is a program for children age 0 to 12+ and involves day care and after school care and activities. Through the program, the governments aim to increase the quality of child care, while keeping child care financially affordable for all parents. A lot will be invested in the training of child care workers.
Saba has made quite some progress where it comes to child care. The expansion of the day care centre in The Bottom is currently in progress. Not only is the quality of child care improving, but the waiting list is also being reduced. The Public Entity Saba took the initiative to get this done.