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Childcare Savings Begins Dec. 1, But Not All B.C. Parents Benefit

Parents who have children in non-licensed day care centers, kindergartens, and daycares who opt out of the fee reduction program see no savings at all.

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After years of searching, Nicole Williams felt a wave of relief when she found the perfect daycare for her 3-year-old son.

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The 37-year-old’s optimism was washed away when he learned that his Greater Victoria daycare would not participate in the BC NDP government’s childcare subsidy program, which went into effect on December 1, cutting thousands of parents’ fees in half. I was.

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“It really hurts me to hear friends who make over $100,000 a year trying to cut this money because their daycare is in a childcare discount program.” Her family of four. “And we make about half of that.”

So while other parents are poised to save hundreds of dollars a month, Williams’ $700 a month in childcare remains unchanged.

Critics say this exposed the unfair and somewhat random nature of the government’s childcare program, which has left some parents behind.

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Some pay $10 a day for childcare through pilot projects, while others pay about $20 a day. Parents who have children in unlicensed preschools, kindergartens, and daycares who opt out of fee reduction programs will not get any savings at all, which is unfair, they say.

Child care advocates say the new subsidy, which will cover 96,000 children in the state, will bring the BC NDP’s 2017 election platform’s central plan of $10 a day day care closer to reality. says.

A Postmedia News analysis of daycares participating in government programs shows an uneven distribution. As a result, Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria parents receive more savings than some Okanagan and Hinterland parents.

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In September, the NDP announced a subsidy to reduce average childcare costs from an average of $53 to $21 per day. The amount of savings varies depending on the type of childcare a parent is enrolled in, but the maximum a parent can save is $550 a month if their child is under the age of 3 and attends group-based day care.

The federal government is committing $3.2 billion over five years as part of its national commitment to $10 a day childcare by 2026.

The state’s pilot program to subsidize daycare spaces to $10 a day is also expanding, and is expected to reach 12,600 spaces by the end of the year.

According to BC’s Department of Education, about 4,400 childcare facilities are participating in the fee reduction program. About 2,800 people are in so-called group day care, representing about 96% of the program’s target population. About 1,600 are small nurseries operated in private homes, about 90% of the nurseries covered.

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Unlicensed preschools and kindergartens are not eligible to receive funding.

Tara Bisgrove, who has owned and operated Victoria-based Precious Moments Daycare for 33 years, feels forced to participate in a system that doesn’t work for private family-based daycares.

Bisgrove, a licensed early childhood teacher who cares for seven children in her basement, worries about the added administrative burden of submitting the monthly reports required for participation.

“A lot of private providers feel like they’re being pushed into the system,” she said. If she doesn’t opt ​​in, she’ll lose her business because her parents avoid charging her full day care bill, which is about $1,000 a month, when others are paying half of it. .

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“It was a really difficult decision because there’s a lot of paperwork to do each month and you’re giving up a lot of freedom,” said the 61-year-old woman.

If Bisgrove chooses, $4 an hour will be added to her salary as part of the government’s wage hike for early childhood teachers.

Sharon Gregson, spokesperson for the $10 a day childcare campaign, said she knows some childcare providers have opted out of lowering rates, but the new savings are big enough to encourage people to opt in. There will be strong pressure to do so.

“It’s almost mean that childcare providers aren’t on board because it literally saves families hundreds of dollars for just a little bit of paperwork,” she said.

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As an incentive to participate, the government is increasing administrative funding for childcare providers. Funds available for operating costs and staff wages are doubled for group daycare and he tripled or quadrupled for home daycare.

Childcare centers that participate in price reductions must agree to cap annual price increases at 3% to prevent daycares from raising fees to offset parent savings.

BC Liberal child care critic Karin Kirkpatrick said the rate cap is putting pressure on child care providers facing rising rents, utility bills and wages. She said it could have unintended consequences, such as reducing the number of services offered.

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Kirkpatrick said a more equitable way to roll out the program would be to give low- and middle-income parents the most savings.

“There could be people who have a good income. They get $10[daycare]just because they happen to live in the right place,” she said. . “And while young mothers who aren’t high earners may be really struggling to pay, they’re still paying full price.”

However Katrina Chen, British Columbia’s Minister of State for Child Care, said: Low-to-middle income parents with an annual household income of less than $111,000 are eligible for a second subsidy, it notes. Affordable childcare benefits, coupled with December 1st savings, can drive childcare costs to near zero.

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Williams receives $550 a month in childcare payments thanks to affordable childcare benefits, but the government has increased subsidies paid to low- and middle-income families and raised income standards to bring more British Columbia children into the country. He said he could have made it more acceptable to people. profit.

Affordable childcare benefits will cut Williams’ daycare fees from $1,250 to $700 a month, but if her daycare participated in the rate cuts, she’d be paying nearly $260 a month, or more than $5,000 a year. You can save.

“It means that we can think I put money into my children’s savings accounts. And we might actually be able to afford her second car,” she said. “We are surviving on the bare minimum of comfort.”

kderosa@postmedia.com


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Childcare Savings Begins Dec. 1, But Not All B.C. Parents Benefit

Source link Childcare Savings Begins Dec. 1, But Not All B.C. Parents Benefit

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