The True Cost and Consequence of $10/day Child Care
We understand that families are eager to have the $10/day child care plan implemented – it’s a very large savings from the current fees and as Creative Kids is an advocate for quality, affordable, inclusive and accessible child care, we have been eager to find out how our organization will fit into the government initiative. Unfortunately, what we have discovered is concerning and certainly not an easy process. I will do my best to explain what we know on our end and how it affects us all. This is a lot of information, but it is very important that we are all aware of what is happening so I appreciate you taking the time to review.
When the $10 a day child care initiative was first spoken about it was assumed that the government would increase the threshold and funding for the Affordable Child Care Benefit (subsidy as it used to be called) so that the savings would go directly to the families that require affordable child care. It is a system that for the most parts works well, and serves many families in need of assistance with paying child care fees. However, we have come to learn that this will not be the means to provide affordable child care in BC. The government will be increasing the CCFRI (Child care Fee Reduction Initiative) which currently provides a discount in fees ($100 for 3-5 child care spaces and $350 for Infant Toddler spaces). This initiative has been in place since 2018. In order for our organization to provide this discount, we must enter into a contract with the government. In entering into this contract to provide the discounted fees to our families, even as a privately owned business, we must hand over authority in regards to our fees, and provide the government with extensive information about our organization and finances. Although it is clearly stated in our parent handbook that we will raise our rates yearly to meet the demands of livable wages for our staff and quality care for our children, we must apply each year to the government to raise our fees and often wait in limbo for months on whether we will be approved or not. Not receiving approval means we need to withdraw the discount families receive for their fees, but also retract the $4.00 an hour wage enhancement our staff receive as part of the agreement, which you can imagine would cause immense distress to our families and employees.
This agreement, although stressful to navigate at times, has been something that we have been able to adapt to and conform in the interest of our families and employees. However, in recent months, under the new amalgamated, Ministry of Education and Child Care, the BC Government has decided to cap child care fees, with a flat fee per age group and per district with no consideration for the expansive diversity in child care when it comes to quality, hours, services provided, lower ratio, rent, utilities, and benefit packages for employees just to name a few. This is also without reflection of inflation, regular wage increases for staff (which is extremely important for employee retention for a sector in crisis), or the recently mandated paid sick days. We now have reason to be very concerned that these caps, without reasonable attention to the rising expenses, will make it incredibly difficult to remain viable, while providing the quality care and early learning education that you have entrusted us to provide for your children.
Another area of concern, is that there has been a movement to insinuate that private child care does not provide quality care. Something that our organization and our staffing team would vehemently deny. Of course, there are going to be instances of poor quality, but this can be found in private, not for profit and public spaces. To paint the entire private early learning sector with the same brush of poor quality is reckless and misinformed. What we know is we have served 1000’s of satisfied families over the years, and we have very good relationships with our licensing officers, who oversee compliance and we have been told time and again, that our centers are of superior quality.
Both Federal and Provincial Governments want more women in the workforce….it doesn’t take long to see that the majority of Early Childhood Educators are women! The Private Child Care sector is owned/operated primarily by women! And the Private Child Care Sector holds the majority of available child care spaces in BC. The request of the Government to Women Entrepreneurs in the Child Care Industry, who have been in business supporting local communities and families for decades, through extremely challenging times, to give up their life’s work and business is too grave a request. One of which many Child Care Providers have to question, approach with caution and evaluate all options.
The BC Government wants to align with the model that Ottawa has encompassed…..I have attached an article that is very interesting and I urge you to take a look, just how the $10/day model is working and the role that Private Child Care has to play. We’ll be keeping you in the know as much as we can throughout this process as we come to know more ourselves.